23 October 2007

Coalition Supports Innovative Youth Support Programme in North Western Tasmania

Tragically North West Tasmania has the highest incidence of misuse of drugs and related mental health issues in the state and youth suicide rates are 65% above the national average.To help break down the barriers that prevent young people from accessing health advice, the Coalition will launch a local trial of the highly successful Dr Yes (Youth Education Sessions) programme.

The Dr Yes programme, a school based health education initiative, is targeted at 14-17 year olds.Dr Yes counsellors are specially trained volunteer medical students who will visit rural high schools to have frank, open discussions on topics concerning youth health such as drugs and alcohol and mental health.This programme both complements and adds to the school health education curriculum and the Coalition Government’s Drugs in Schools Programme.

The Coalition will work in conjunction with the Australian Medical Association in Tasmania to trial the programme which has been operating in Western Australia for a number of years.The Coalition will provide $250,000 to the AMA to deliver this important programme to North West Tasmanian Schools.

I pay tribute to the vision and enthusiasm of the Member for Braddon, Mark Baker MP, whose experience as a high school teacher in the area allowed him to identify the need for this programme and to push for its introduction in Tasmania.The programme will start in Latrobe High, Reece High, Devonport High, Ulverstone High, Parklands High and Smithton High.Mark Baker has taught at several of those schools and I commend him for his ongoing support for the local community.