By JESSICA ROBERTS
The development of a temporary mental health service for youth is under way in Glen Waverley after Monash Council’s campaign for a Headspace facility was rejected once again.
Mayor Paul Klisaris said Monash had not been included in the latest round of funding for a Headspace centre as the government chose to focus on regional and rural areas.
Instead the council has secured a two-day-a-week interim Youth Mental Health Hub using office space at Monash Youth Services in Glen Waverley.
Monash Youth Services communications officer Morsal Bashir said the centre would act as “an outpost providing young people with the services they desperately need while council continues its campaign … for a fully funded headspace in Monash”.
A range of agencies have provided their support to the centre, including Eastern Health’s Youth Engagement Treatment Team Initiative, two psychologists from Headspace Hawthorn and an Alcohol and other drug counsellor from Link Health and Community.
“While Council believes this is a good interim step, it is only a stop-gap measure. A headspace service, located within Monash, would represent a significant improvement in young people’s capacity to seek support,” Ms Bashir said.
Mission Australia’s 2017 youth survey found mental health to be among the top three barriers to achieving post-school goals.
Approximately half the respondents indicated coping with stress to be a top concern and one third identified mental health as an important issue in Australia today.
Mount Waverley ward Councillor Rebecca Paterson said the results from the survey confirmed her concerns that Monash youth need the services offered through Headspace.
“All young people across Australia need reasonable access to mental health facilities that are free, good quality and aimed specifically at young people,” she said.
The nearest Headspace centres for Monash youth are in Knox and Hawthorn. Cr Paterson said these facilities were up to an hour away by public transport.
“This is not sufficient for kids that may need to access facilities outside of school hours, and don’t have a parent that is willing or able to drive them to either of these locations,” she said.
In 2017 council delivered more than 4000 postcards to Health Minister Greg Hunt on the issue. However, the Minister said council needed the approval of federal Chisholm MP Julia Banks to develop a Headspace facility.
“Council has contacted Julia Banks MP on several occasions to discuss the need for her to endorse the campaign but she believes that the facilities in Hawthorn and Knox are adequate for Monash young people,” Cr Paterson said.
Council will continue to advocate for a Headspace centre in Monash with a new campaign on the way.
“We’ll be calling on everyone in our community to #RaiseYourHandforYouth. More details of the campaign will be unfolding in the coming weeks,” Ms Bashir said.