Responding to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has presented many challenges to the Queensland Government and the people of Queensland, but the most pressing problem – the erosion of the future prospects of our children – has not been tackled.
Mental Health Week has clearly showcased the psychological impact and effect COVID-19 has had on the general public and in particular on persons who face serious mental health issues with inadequate support.
Young people are Queensland’s future – everyone’s future. COVID has emphatically exposed the problems that over decades have been slowly undermining the prospects of young people – psychological distress and chronic uncertainties related to unequal educational opportunities; inadequate vocational pathways to secure well paid employment rather than under-employment or unemployment; environmental challenges; gender related issues; marginalization and lack of inclusiveness, especially related to race and disability; corporate exploitation; degradation of community cohesion; and unmet mental healthcare needs.
While some of these issues have grabbed political attention courtesy of COVID-19 – educational challenges, for example – only piecemeal responses have been announced. Meanwhile, the problem gnawing at the heart of community well-being – the erosion of purpose and meaning for our young people – remains out of sight and off the political agenda.
Clear Thinking Queensland, a not-for-profit, non-political organisation set up to support improvements in access to evidence-based mental health services for young people, calls on all political parties to make our young people the number one issue for our next Queensland government.
Michael Halliday, Chair of Clear Thinking Queensland, said, “The prosperity, collective wellbeing and resilience of our community relies on strong leadership and prompt action to respond effectively to this crisis.”
Establishing a high-level task force dedicated to youth affairs, operating from within the Premier’s department, would give confidence to the people of Queensland that leading the transformation of our health, education, family support, and legal systems to meet the rapidly changing needs of the younger generation is recognised as a priority.
“The solutions to these challenging problems lie in working with young people, but currently we do not see that happening”, said Mr Halliday.
“They are getting lukewarm attention and attracting feeble responses”.
A dramatic change in the political agenda to support robust, compassionate and science-based responses to the challenges facing our young people will unlock the potential for generations to come.
Chair, ClearThinking Qld< Back