My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health.
I raise the awareness of the annual PANDA Week across Australia in this chamber as it is so near and dear to my heart.
PANDA is an acronym for Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness and, in 2019, the theme for the week (which runs from 10th to 16th November) is “let’s get real”. It’s a theme which aims to focus the minds of all Australians on the reality that perinatal anxiety and depression are common and serious. Indeed, as a measure of exactly how common they are, it’s worth noting that around 1 in 5 new or expecting mothers and up to 1 in 10 new fathers are likely to suffer from anxiety and/or depression within the period from a child’s conception to 12 months after their birth.
To add to that picture, these are conditions that do not discriminate. They can very easily affect any new or expecting parent. They can also escalate very quickly, especially as many people often feel an intense guilt or shame about such emotions and are therefore afraid even to open up about such issues. The escalation of these problems is not hard to understand, of course, given that those affected will typically be surrounded by friends and loved ones who are (in complete contrast to them) feeling great excitement and joy about the prospect of a new arrival to the family. Against that backdrop, one of the key aims of PANDA Week is to widely emphasise the point that such depression and anxiety is actually nothing to be ashamed about – and that supporting new and expecting parents, and monitoring their wellbeing, is always important.
Now, I know the Minister will be well aware of PANDA Week and very likely participating in a number of events and activities associated with it. So, to build on that and in a completely apolitical spirit, the action that I seek from her through this adjournment is the provision of advice about what Victorians can best do, the whole year round, in the name of supporting anyone suffering from perinatal anxiety or depression. As part of that, I would also ask the Minister if she could list resources that are specifically made available by the Victorian Government (including the URLs of relevant web pages, and the names and numbers of relevant contacts) for people who are seeking help in managing, treating and reducing the impact of these two conditions.