Mental health a sticking issue in Gilmore after fires, floods and a pandemic

Psychological help services are a major concern for the marginal seat of Gilmore, following a cluster of suicides after the region was devastated by environmental catastrophes.

Voter and Youth Insearch volunteer Zane Condon (Image: Amber Schultz/Private Media)

Mental health support could be a vital issue in the marginal seat of Gilmore, south of Sydney, which was devastated by the Black Summer bushfires, COVID-19 isolation issues and recent flooding in the region. 

More than 5000 children and youth are at risk of significant harm in the electorate, CEO of peer-led youth trauma recovery organisation Youth Insearch Stephen Lewin tells Crikey. One in five children in Shoalhaven is affected by mental illness and more than a third of self-harm emergencies involve people aged 15 to 24.

The seat is held with a 2.6% swing by Labor’s Fiona Phillips, who is up against the Liberals’ Andrew Constance and the Greens’ Carmel McCallum. Constance’s presence makes for an interesting election: as the Liberal member for Bega for the past 18 years, he’s held the NSW treasury and transport ministerial portfolios, but rose to infamy during the Black Summer bushfires. 

Read more about what concerns are vital election issues in marginal electorates.

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