Grievance Debate - Chaffey

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (16:21): I would like to rise to talk about some of the important issues in the great electorate of Chaffey.

I would like to take this opportunity to make mention that today is R U OK? Day. It is also World Suicide Prevention Day. They are two initiatives that in today's climate have become more important than ever before. Here in South Australia, nationally and globally, we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, here in South Australia we have dealt with a number of disasters, not only the bushfires that have burnt far and wide around the state but also the drought and the hardship of the potential trade barriers that we are dealing with at the moment, particularly with COVID-19.  

The opposition leader talks about blaming the government for the drop in trade and economic activity. South Australia's records are second to none. Our trade numbers are bucking the national trend and our economic credentials are well outpacing any of the other mainland states. I would say that this government is leading the nation. South Australia is the envy, going through the uncertain times with the pandemic, the fires, the flood and all of the uncertainties that we currently face.  

As I said, it is important to raise awareness around suicide and to encourage communities to look out for one another and ask the question: are you okay? Each year, these events are raising more and more awareness. They are promoting mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention, all issues close to my community's heart, and this year, they are more important than ever.  

We know that regional communities face issues around isolation, particularly our elderly and those more vulnerable. They are too scared to leave their homes. They are too scared to attend their doctor's appointments because they are the most vulnerable to contract COVID-19. They are the most vulnerable through these uncertain times. Some, who do not have families, who do not have a close connection of friends, are locked away inside and have a level of uncertainty. So we urge family, friends, neighbours, community people to just knock on the door and ask: are you okay?  

I would also like to mention two great organisations in the Riverland: Life Without Barriers and Headspace in Berri, which have been championing these messages in the Riverland and hosting events today as part of the awareness campaign.  

As I have said, people in rural populations are two times more likely to die by suicide. Drought, low commodity prices, high input prices, financial stress, isolation and, of course, as I have already mentioned, COVID-19 continue to intimidate and threaten every community here in South Australia. These important organisations are doing vital work throughout the year. They are supporting people who are vulnerable and people who are struggling. They are also supporting people who have added significant pressures placed upon them.  

I would like to talk about some of the great opportunities. We know the importance of social interaction and physical exercise in managing mental health. The Marshall Liberal government is supporting community sporting clubs to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. We know that sport is a vital part of the Riverland community. It is the fabric and the backbone of social interaction, health and wellbeing. Health is vitally important in these current times.  

Hardworking mums, dads and volunteers are the fabric of our sporting clubs. The Office of Recreation and Sport has been supporting many of the local sporting clubs, particularly with the Active Club grants. It was great to see that the District Council of Loxton Waikerie is expanding their sporting precinct with the help of a $380,000 grant.  

I was also out at the Renmark Olympic soccer event of recent weeks to see the new lights out there. It has given a new perspective to that club and to the sport. They can get out of the heat, they can continue their work during the day and they now have opportunities to undertake competitive sport under lights, and that is now bringing out a new audience—spectators who otherwise would not have gone out and had a look.  

The Riverland is a great place to visit and a great place to be. I congratulate the under 18s, under 15s and under 13s on their best and fairest players in their respective age groups: Adam Westley, Jordan Gadaleta, Reuben Lehmann and Malachi Lloyd. 

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