May 21, 2021 | Political

EXCLUSIVE – “Ask a Pollie” special edition with Greg Hunt

  • Scott Mayman is an award-winning radio presenter and journalist who has worked professionally in both Australia and in the United States and is also a Correspondent for CBS News Radio in New York.

This is a unique “Ask a Pollie” segment.

The Federal Health Minister has provided an exclusive “one-on-one” interview with My News Feed during a visit to the region this week.

Greg Hunt was originally scheduled to meet representatives from Headspace last year but the plans were scuttled because of the pandemic.

Minister Hunt in the meeting with Headspace representatives, Bert Van Manen and McPherson MP Karen Andrews

On Wednesday afternoon, May 19, Mr Hunt fullfilled his promise to visit the group. He also took time out to provide an exclusive interview with this reporter.

Here’s how it went.

SCOTT MAYMAN:

This is like an epic movie – a year in the making. You finally made it here!

GREG HUNT:

Well, it is – obviously Covid restricted movement, it had an impact on peoples lives. We know that it increased demand for services by young people for Headspace and other supports. To see something that Bert (Van Manen) fought for – The Upper Coomera Headspace, servicing the kids and their families in the region, it’s just… that’s why you do the job and they’re taking care of people here.

Sure, we’re under-pinning the funding – that’s what makes it possible, but Bert was the one who fought for it and the community worked together to deliver it and now Emily and her team there, are literally taking care of kids and saving lives everyday.

SCOTT MAYMAN:

And ofcourse, big budget announcements as far as mental health is concerned.

GREG HUNT:

Yes, so there was a new national mental health and suicide prevention plan – It IS a big number – it’s 2.3 billion dollars. But it’s not the money. It’s this comprehensive national mental health and suicide prevention plan. The work on prevention and early intervention… a massive new national treatment network with 164 Headspaces. For the first time, 40 adult head to health treatment centres… and 15 intergrated childrens mental health centres.

“…Then you’ve got the support for vulnerable populations – Indigenous and multicultural backgrounds and finally, the work force. So, as big as a package we’ve ever had but much more significantly, It’s just about taking care of people.

SCOTT MAYMAN:

How are things looking, as far as re-opening the international border?

GREG HUNT:

I look at 600,000 people a day being diagnosed worldwide (with Covid) and 13,900 lost their lives in the past 24 hours. In Australia, zero community cases for 89 days this year. We’ve had one life lost that was diagnosed in hotel quarantine but beyond that we’ve not had any this year such tragedy, so our world is completely different.

We’ll open. We will open progressively but safely and the vast majority of Australians want us to be safe…. and we’re going to do it as more and more people are vaccinated. A record today with 95,000 people vaccinated in the last 24 hours.

SCOTT MAYMAN

We really have been the lucky country, haven’t we?

GREG HUNT:

We are, when you think of it. 89 days of zero cases this year and the only advanced economy in the world to have more people in work now, than prior to the pandemic and so the health has allowed the economic – the economic has helped with people’s mental health… and so vaccinations help provide that protection going forward.

(CLARIFICATION: The Federal Government has confirmed in a statement that Australia’s international border will remain shut until mid next year, but an exact date and how the progressive re-opening will occur remains under review, with priority to be given to  “gradual return of temporary and permanent migrants” ).

Logan Hospital

From here, our attention turned to the recent crisis involving ambulance ramping at Queensland hospitals.

Greg Hunt confirmed Queensland receives billions of dollars in Federal Funding

I don’t think there are any reasons not to be able to operate efficiently and meet that demand” he said.

As reported by My News Feed nearly two weeks ago, about 15 ambulances were reportedly ramping at Logan Hospital as facilities across South East Queensland declared “a code yellow” alert.

There’s a lot of funding” according to Minister Hunt. “Queensland receives seven billion (dollars) and another 1.2 million this year”.

It’s part of an agreement with the Commonwealth as part of Federal Hospitals funding.

Put that together and I hope they use it wisely – I’ll put it that way”.

Our website, “My News Feed – Logan” was the only invited local media to attend a special event involving Headspace.

The event was a promise from the Health Minister to visit the facility after being forced to scrub the original visitation a year ago due to the pandemic.

The meeting was an opportunity to talk about the latest budget announcements to assist mental health.

We know it (Covid) increased demand by young people for services like Headspace and other supports – it’s something Bert (Van Manen) fought for….. that’s why you do the job”.

To learn more about Headspace Upper Coomera, click HERE.

Should your require immediate assistance, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

In an emergency dial 000.

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