Headspace centre push

Liam Durkin

A PETITION has begun for a Headspace centre to be established in the Wellington Shire, to ensure local teenagers and young adults are given the support services they need to deal with a variety of mental and physical health issues.

Headspace centres act as a one-stop-shop for young people who need help with mental, physical and sexual health, alcohol and other drugs or work and study support.

More than 100 centres nationally have been designed, not just for young people, but with them, to ensure they are relevant, accessible and highly effective.

As a result, no two Headspace centres are the same, with each offering unique services that reflect the needs of its local community.

In Gippsland, Headspace operate out of Morwell, Bairnsdale and Wonthaggi, forcing people from towns such as Warragul, Alberton and Sale to make long trips to access any support, a dilemma local parent Sharon Hall said only added to the stress young people may be feeling.

“If a person is suffering from poor mental health, the fatigue from driving can contribute more negatively, and even more so if they can’t drive,” Ms Hall said.

“Twenty-eight per cent of people in Wellington are aged between 12 and 25, so there is a need for a Headspace centre to be available.”

A federally-funded initiative, Headspace offers those in need free access to a variety of psychologists, social workers and councillors.

Ms Hall plans to send the completed petitions to Gippsland MHR Darren Chester in the hope a resolution will be reached.

Mr Chester said he was supportive of the campaign to open a Headspace service in Sale and said he was working with local doctors and the Wellington Youth Council to lobby the federal Health Minister to make Sale a priority for future expansion of the national network of Headspace services.

“I have met many Gippslanders who have expressed concerns about access to mental health services and the need to remove stigma for those suffering mental illness,” Mr Chester said.

“It is critical governments and service providers work together to deliver services when and where people need them.

“Local doctors believe a Headspace centre in Sale would help to address the growing need for youth mental health services, reporting a significant unmet demand for services locally.

“I’ve made formal representations to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt requesting his support to make Sale a priority for future expansion of Headspace.

“I’ll also be meeting with the Gippsland Primary Health Network to make it aware of the unmet demand and investigate opportunities for more resources to be allocated to mental health services in Sale.”

Petitions have been set up at medical centres in Sale (Inglis St), Maffra (Johnson St) and Stratford (Tyers St), as well at the Sale Combined Kindergarten and online at change.org.