ADDRESS IN REPLY

Adjourned debate on motion for adoption (resumed on motion).    

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS         (         16:27         :09         ):  I rise to support this motion and indicate my thanks for the speech with which the Governor opened this parliament. I continue to appreciate the work that the Governor and Mrs Scarce do right around this state. I acknowledge the fact that only recently has he once again been up to an Operation Flinders exercise at Yankaninna and has gone out walking with the young people and slept out with them. I commend him highly for doing that. I have been to Operation Flinders on many occasions and supported them greatly as an ambassador but walking with the kids is not something that I have done. I have done many other activities with the young people up there but I commend the Governor for his capacity and ability to do that.

First, I should offer my congratulations to you, sir, in occupying the position you now hold. I am also pleased to acknowledge the efforts of the previous president, the Hon. Mr John Gazzola. I was always pleased to work with him in his role as president and previously as whip.    

I add my welcome to this place to our new members of the Legislative Council: my own colleague, the Hon. Andrew McLachlan, and of course the new whip, the Hon. Tung Ngo, who becomes the fifth Government Whip with whom I have worked. I am enjoying working with Tung. Of those five, he is the second brand-new member of the Legislative Council in a row that I have dealt with, and so far so good. Well done, and I look forward to working with Tung more in the future.    

I would particularly like to welcome the new Liberal members in the lower house. Like my colleague the Hon. Michelle Lensink, I had the pleasure of listening to the great majority of the maiden speech this morning by the new member for Mount Gambier, Troy Bell. I had a little bit to do with his campaign and I am very pleased that he is here.    

I also welcome the new member for Schubert, Stephan Knoll; the new member for Bright, David Speirs; the new member for Hartley, Vincent Tarzia; and the new member for Mitchell, Corey Wingard. I am pleased to say that for the first time in my parliamentary career, I have Liberal colleagues as the members for Mount Gambier and Mitchell.    

Before going on to some of the greater detail in the Governor's speech, I want to refer to one of the former members of parliament who was referred to in that speech. That was the death in November 2013 of Mr Ivon Alfred Wardle, who served as the member for Murray from 1968 to 1977. I am sorry that this council did not get the opportunity to make a condolence motion on Mr Wardle. I think it is a pity that, in recent times, there have been some members of the House of Assembly who have passed away and we have not been given the opportunity to do a condolence motion, so I would like to make some brief remarks about Mr Wardle's service not only to the parliament but to South Australia in this debate.    

Mr Wardle was born on 23 March 1919 at Burra. When he was about eight years old, his family moved to Wynarka in the Mallee and they were on a farm there. In the late 1930s, as a young man of only 18, Ivon Wardle felt called to give his life to the ministry of the Methodist Church and he attended theological college. As a relatively young man, he went out ministering in the parishes of Peebinga, Woodville, Wudinna and Mount Gambier during the years 1939 to 1941. He then enlisted in the RAAF and served in Australia and Papua New Guinea with the No. 75 Kittyhawk squadron.    

He married Dorothy Briggs in 1941 while ministering at Mount Gambier. After his war service, he was recalled by the Methodist Church and posted to Kulpara. He served as a minister for some time but retired early from that vocation because of the ill-health of his wife. However, in that retirement, he then helped a Pinnaroo farmer in the development of 2,000 acres of scrubland at Coonalpyn. I know that ministers of religion work hard, and I am sure the Hon. Mr Lucas would agree with me, but how the work of clearing 2,000 acres of scrubland was easier work to assist his wife than being a Methodist minister, I am not sure.    

Following on from that period, Ivon Wardle actually moved into local government. He became the District Clerk and overseer of works at the District Council of Meningie and in later years he went on to become Deputy Town Clerk at Murray Bridge. He also became extraordinarily involved in the community in Murray Bridge.    

In 1968 Ivon was elected to the Parliament of South Australia as the Liberal and Country League member for Murray. He had a very large swing and won the seat from the ALP, allowing Steele Hall to form government. He served on a number of committees in his time in the parliament, and I was interested to note that he was actually granted a three-month scholarship in 1974 to visit 20 countries to study new cities in the anticipation of the creation of a new city, Monarto, in the Murray electorate. Those of us with a strong political history will remember that proposed new city which I think initially was actually called Murray before they decided to use the word Monarto. Unfortunately, of course, it never came to fruition.    

Ivon Wardle served four parliamentary terms until the electorate was divided four ways in the redistribution of 1977. While he still wanted to run for the seat of Murray, basically the seat was largely dominated by more of the Hills area of the state rather than the Murraylands section. This, of course, coincided with the time of the amalgamation of the Liberal and Country League with the Liberal Movement.    

I was familiar with a similar situation closer to my home where more than one seat had been amalgamated and there was a member from each of the Liberal Movement and the LCL who wanted to run in that area, and so the one that did not win the preselection was allowed to run as an unendorsed Liberal rather than as an Independent, as described by the Speaker in the lower house. I think it is important to know that Mr Wardle ran as an unendorsed Liberal and not an Independent.    

Mr David Wotton, the endorsed Liberal, did win that seat and so Ivon Wardle left parliament, and he actually moved into another phase of his interesting life. After politics, he became the assistant administrator for Resthaven Homes and continued as chairman of the Resthaven board after retiring in 1981. He returned to fill a two-year vacancy at Resthaven and retired for a second time 8½ years later. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1995 for service to parliament, the community, the Uniting Church and aged care.    

After the death of his wife Dorothy in 1998, he later married a long-time acquaintance, Fay Bailey of Mount Gambier, in 2004. On behalf of Liberal members, I would like to put on record in this debate not only our sympathy but also our recognition of the work of Ivon Wardle in this parliament and also in a range of other vocations and, as members would have heard, in a range of locations around this state.    

I was very pleased that in the Governor's speech there was quite a significant reference to mental health, but particularly to suicide. As you, Mr President, and members well know, suicide prevention is a passion of mine and a portfolio responsibility that I hold. The Governor did say that the rate of suicide in South Australia is unacceptable, and in rural areas the rates are significantly worse than those of metropolitan areas. He goes on to express how disturbing it is to consider the amount of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses that exists in what I suppose we would normally describe as prosperous, safe communities. The reference in that sentence is specifically referring to young people. I am the first to recognise that there is a significant amount of suicide happening in rural areas and to young people, but as I have said recently it is right across society. I think for us to put it just into rural areas and young people, or older men, as is quite often said, is dangerous. We need to treat this as an all of society issue.    

The Governor mentioned the work of the newly flagged Mental Health Commission. I am very hopeful that that commission will work with and assist the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, which is doing very good work with minimal resources to roll out the government suicide prevention strategy. I think what we need to do is to do more to help a vast array of groups that are out there, largely with little or no funding. I thought it might be helpful to go through a number of the groups that are working either in the area of suicide prevention or with people who are affected by a suicide or an attempted suicide.    

The danger of going through and listing some of these groups is that you miss some out. There is a vast number, and I am going to list some of them now. It started off in a geographical sense in the former home town of the Hon. Mr Lucas and went north. I had quite a bit to do with the terrific people at Lifeline South East, who have had a very strong role in the development of the Mount Gambier Suicide Prevention Network, and I commend the Limestone Coast LSA of SAPOL for its strong involvement in that work in the South-East.    

I note that Lifeline South East has also been involved in the development of the Naracoorte mental health round table. I met with the mayor of Naracoorte Lucindale last week. There will be a suicide prevention forum in Naracoorte on 12 August, and I will be in attendance at that forum. I was pleased to be involved in the launch of the Murray Bridge Suicide Prevention Network last year. The ongoing work of that group is exceptional, and certainly the Rural City of Murray Bridge is to be commended for its support.    

Also at Murray Bridge is a group called Silent Ripples, which specifically deals with the families of people bereaved by suicide, and along with the Rural City of Murray Bridge developed the marvellous memorial garden overlooking the old original bridge over the Murray, where people who have been bereaved by suicide can go to remember those they have lost in this manner.    

Last Wednesday evening I was privileged to go to the launch of the Sedan suicide prevention awareness program, held in the small Murraylands town of Sedan, with sponsorship from the Mannum men's watch group, two local ministers and also the Mid Murray Council. One of the groups that presented at that program was the organisation called Ski for Life, which raises money for men's mental health and suicide prevention with an annual skiing event going from Renmark down to, I think, first Murray Bridge, but the second time I think they went as far as Wellington. I have also been heavily involved with the Strathalbyn and Community Suicide Prevention Network, which started off with assistance from Wesley LifeForce in Sydney. Since then they have developed their own leadership and have been doing some terrific work in that community.    

The Community Response to Eliminating Suicide (CORES) group is one I have mentioned in this place many times, and I am proud to say that I have had a lot to do with the establishment of those programs on Eyre Peninsula and in the Riverland. The Riverland chapter is extraordinarily active still. I was only reading something recently about a further suicide prevention program, which will be held in Loxton shortly by that group.    

In Port Augusta I have been privileged to work with the Suicide Intervention Life Preservation Action Group (SILPAG), and I know the member for Stuart has given them great support in that community, which is particularly important because of the large Aboriginal population there. We know, unfortunately, that the suicide prevalence in that community is far higher than in the rest of society.    

In my own home town I have been pleased to be involved in the launch of the Gawler Suicide Prevention Community Group and continue to attend those monthly meetings as often as I can. A lot of those networks and community groups that have been set up through the work of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist. Initially they put in a lot of effort developing their own action plan that suits the community they serve. Another that has just been developed is the City of Playford Suicide Prevention Community Network, and that city council has a very strong track record of working in this area, going back a number of years ago when I attended a forum run jointly with Rotary in that city, when 300 people were in attendance.    

Also in the northern suburbs we have the Northern Suicide Bereavement Support Group, which does important work. I have also been privileged to speak to a number of groups that are not specifically designed around suicide prevention but are very keen to tap into anybody providing assistance in that area. One of those groups is the Northern Carers Network. I have also been pleased to visit Neami National at Elizabeth and see the work that that organisation is doing with mental health clients, many of whom have come out of facilities such as Glenside, and they are very involved in getting those people back into the community, into employment and into voluntary work as well.    

Just going through a number of other groups: the Mental Health Activity and Resource Centre and the One Voice Network. Another I have had an enormous amount of involvement with is Minimisation of Suicide Harm (MOSH), an organisation started by a wonderful lady, Jill Chapman, who lost her son to suicide, and her response has been to do everything she can to make sure any people who suffer a loss from suicide do not have to go through as much of the anguish as she did without support. MOSH is a terrific organisation.    

Anglicare is very involved in this space. I think a number of people have heard of the Living Beyond Suicide program. They have also recently launched A Cry for Help, and I went to the launch of that in St Peter's Cathedral recently. A Cry for Help is about helping the people who have attempted suicide and been unsuccessful and, of course, their families, as they all grapple with the results of that.    

Obviously, Uniting Communities play a particular role in the area, particularly through Lifeline Adelaide but in other ways as well. I think Lifeline is one of those groups that comes to mind when people are thinking about those who need urgent assistance with mental health or if they are thinking of taking their own life.    

Of course, I have supported the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal for many years, but their work in suicide prevention is probably not as well known even though they have been in the space for over 100 years. Their Hope for Life—Lifekeeper Memory Quilt is a very good reminder of the unfortunate loss that we suffer in this state, and particularly brought home to me a couple of years ago the number of families who have lost more than one member to suicide.    

I have also had some involvement with the Mental Illness Fellowship South Australia. I was a speaker at the group Grandparents for Grandchildren. They were very interested to learn about, I suppose, the greater readiness within the community to talk about these issues. Only today, I have had a call from someone I met at that group about assisting someone who they think is under great threat.    

The emphasis on young people in the mental health area, and particularly those at risk of suiciding, is often related back to the services that are available in an online fashion. There are three in particular, that are based in South Australia, that I have been involved with. One is In 2 Life. The others are TalkLife and ReachOut.com.    

The first two are sort of in a Facebook style, I think, where they allow people to have a conversation with some trained people at the other end about their issues and have that conversation in a way that suits the young people of the day. Many of us in this place would probably prefer face-to-face conversation, but that is the way it is done with a lot of the younger generation. ReachOut.com is another one that has been around for quite a while now and is well regarded.    

There are many other organisations that I could mention, but I just thought it was worth putting on the record that those organisations and many others largely operate without any government assistance. There are some that get some small government assistance, but the great majority of them operate on volunteers and on local fundraising, and I think we need to turn our eye towards providing more assistance for those groups. I say that because I have also organised forums on suicide prevention in the electorates of Giles, Florey, Newland, Little Para, Taylor, Napier, Hartley, Fisher, Mitchell and Light, and I think there is great potential for many more of these to be held and for the follow-up to happen.    

So I say to the government—and I know I have moved a motion in this house which emphasises some of this as well—that I think it is very important that the terrific work that has been done by the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist be added to, because there is only one person trying to roll-out the government strategy across the whole of South Australia at the moment. That lady, Lynne James, is doing a wonderful job, but we need to provide some help.    

In conclusion, there was one other reference in the Governor's speech that I wanted to note. The Governor referred to the fact that regional South Australia accounts for about 20 per cent of the state's population but contributes more than half of South Australia's overseas exports. That is a very accurate reflection of South Australia, and I will always be proud of what regional South Australia does in terms of exports and economic activity. However, I think it is about time that we became realistic about trying to make sure that the population of regional South Australia grows and becomes more than 20 per cent.    

I suppose that for many years I have railed against the ongoing development of South Australia as a city state. I drive around this state a lot and I see some terrific communities that have, in some cases, ageing infrastructure but, in many cases, excellent infrastructure upon which population growth could be based. It is something we need to think about, because most of the other states have a quite large number of significant urban centres outside the metropolitan area. In South Australia we have Mount Gambier and Whyalla as cities of over 20,000, and then we have a number of regional centres of between 10,000 and 20,000. We have no significant centres above perhaps that 25,000 figure; however, there are many other medium to small centres that I think we need to focus on, and we have the ability to do that.    

I hope that the government, with its renewed focus on the regions as part of its agreement with the member for Frome, will have a serious look at the development of our population in addition to the growth of Adelaide; that we get growth back out into the regions so that we can make the population in our regions more than one-fifth of the total population. With those words I commend the motion on the Address in Reply to the house.