DEBRIEFING: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin and Auburn MP Lynda Voltz meet with, from left, vice-president Allan Morris, Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoremaker, vice-president Ben Roche and Nick Hyde.
DEBRIEFING: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin and Auburn MP Lynda Voltz meet with, from left, vice-president Allan Morris, Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoremaker, vice-president Ben Roche and Nick Hyde. Contributed

Frontline police need our support

BUDGET estimates hearings have revealed that mental health-related issues account for 30 per cent of all calls to our frontline police so the NSW Government must ensure that they have the resources to deal with this growing crisis.

Last week I hosted NSW Shadow Minister for Police and Counter Terrorism Lynda Voltz in Lismore and we jointly called on the Government to hold a long overdue public inquiry into the Mental Health Act.

Ever since mental health crisis teams were removed from the state's health system, our police have become the first responders when it comes to contact with people with mental illnesses who require immediate assistance.

In more than a third of cases of Taser use across NSW recently examined by the NSW Ombudsman, NSW police believed the person of interest involved was suffering from or had suffered from a mental health issue.

Labor is calling on the NSW Government to hold a public inquiry into Section 14 of the Mental Health Act as this was recommended by the NSW Legislative Council in 2012.

New South Wales needs better dedicated frontline mental health services so people who are ill get the care they need and our police can focus on fighting crime.

The Government should act now and hold an inquiry to hear from health professionals, nurses, patients, carers, our police and the community.

Shadow Minister Voltz and I met with Richmond District Police Commander Superintendent Toby Lindsay and we congratulated his team on how quickly they responded to the recent terrorism threat at Southern Cross University's Lismore campus.

We also met with SCU Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker and his executive, who police praised for their preparedness and professionalism in managing what was a challenging situation during the lockdown.

I have a long association with the university having served on its 'college council' for many years, and like the VC, I put the safety and wellbeing of all of its students, academic and support staff first and foremost.