Leeser’s maiden speech has per­sonal twist

Monthly Chronicle - - News - Jenny Bar­lass

The first newly elected Fed­eral Mem­ber for Berowra to de­liver a maiden speech since 1973, Julian Leeser added a painful per­sonal note to his inau­gu­ral de­liv­ery to Par­lia­ment.

Leeser, a Pen­nant Hills lo­cal, laid out his pri­or­i­ties in a maiden speech in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on 14 Septem­ber. After de­tail­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence of his fa­ther’s sui­cide, Leeser out­lined the im­por­tance that tak­ing ac­tion on de­pres­sion and sui­cide held for him. “I am de­ter­mined to do my part to help pierce the lone­li­ness, the des­per­a­tion and the black­ness that peo­ple who suf­fer de­pres­sion feel,” he told the House. “I will be a strong ad­vo­cate for men­tal health.”

Elab­o­rat­ing on why he spoke out, he said: “It was im­por­tant that I spoke pub­licly about my fam­ily’s ex­pe­ri­ence of sui­cide. One of the most ef­fec­tive pre­ven­ta­tive ac­tions we can take is to nur­ture strong com­mu­ni­ties where peo­ple are not afraid to ask ‘Are you OK? Are you feel­ing sui­ci­dal?’ and where we cre­ate a com­mu­nity open enough that peo­ple feel they can reach out and ask for help. I hope my ad­vo­cacy in Par­lia­ment will help peo­ple suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion and sui­ci­dal thoughts re­alise that they are not alone.”

Mr Leeser de­tailed sev­eral other lo­cal com­mu­nity pri­or­i­ties for his term in of­fice, in­clud­ing en­sur­ing the NorthCon­nex project was de­liv­ered on time and on bud­get; im­prov­ing New Line Road; fix­ing mo­bile black spots and de­liv­er­ing an English lan­guage pro­gram for mi­grants.

“I in­tend to be a very ac­ces­si­ble mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, en­gaged in my elec­torate and work­ing for out­comes that af­fect peo­ple here. I am very happy to say that I have al­ready been able to de­liver re­sults for some of our lo­cal residents who have con­tacted my of­fice seek­ing as­sis­tance. It’s one of the most re­ward­ing parts of the job.”

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