Live4Life youth mental health program to begin in Wellington this year

Live4Life Wellington Partnership Group. Photo: Contributed

Stefan Bradley

A LIVE4LIFE youth mental health and suicide prevention program will start in Wellington this year, Wellington Shire Council has announced.

Live4Life brings together rural and regional communities to deliver evidence-based mental health education in schools and the wider community, create local partnerships to lead conversations about mental health which reduce stigma, and also promote young leaders as mental health ambassadors. Live4Life is an award-winning prevention model centred on young people themselves. It aims to protect young lives before a crisis occurs.

Council says it is proud to take on the role of Lead Agency and work with the Schools and Community Partnership Group in implementing the peer-led, evidence-based, community impact model, which spans both suicide prevention and mental health/wellbeing education – the only program of its kind designed specifically for rural and regional areas.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Ian Bye, stressed the importance of the Live4Life program to address youth mental health. He thanked the John Leslie Foundation for its generous support to bring Live4Life to the shire.

“We understand the significant issue of youth mental health in our community, and I am thankful for the program’s efforts to support young people in schools and other places they feel safe. With council’s support, I’m excited to see the program’s progress over the next 12 months,” Cr Bye said.

Seventy five percent of people with mental ill health have their first episode during adolescence. Suicide is the leading cause of death in 15-24-year-olds in Australia – and the suicide rate is 40 per cent higher in rural and regional communities.”

Nathan Wallace, deputy principal at Yarram Secondary College, said Live4Life brings together community organisations to improve the mental health of our students by equipping them with skills needed for a healthy life.

Bernard Galbally, Youth Live4Life Chief Executive, said it was exciting to be expanding the Live4Life model into Wellington.

“Live4Life is led by young people and involves the whole community. The Live4Life model has been proven to create more highly networked communities, which enhance resilience during hard times and help to support young people living in regional and rural areas. We know that when we work together, we can change lives,” he said.

The Live4Life model has four key components: support, coordination and mentoring from Youth Live4Life’s staff; school and community partnerships; mental health training; and “The Crew” – Live4Life’s youth leadership and participation program.

“We will help Wellington Shire Council over four years to reach a sustainable model. They’ve shown a lot of interest,” Mr Galbally told the Gippsland Times.

Bernard Galbally. Photo: Kim Selby

“Year 9 and 10 students can be part of the youth mental health ambassadors, The Crew. We know that young people want to know about mental health.”

Mr Galbally said mental health education would be provided for teenagers, as well as the adults in the kids’ lives, including parents, sports coaches, teachers, carers and community leaders.

“It’s about building the capacity of the community to know about mental health, and to spot the signs of a good and a bad day. And to know where to seek help and how to offer help,” he said.

“And so adults in your life who have taken up the training can have an impact.”

Mr Galbally said independent evaluation of their model showed that 82 per cent per of adults were confident in being able to support young peoples’ mental health and empower them to seek professional help after taking up Live4Life’s evidence-based suicide prevention and mental health education. Mr Galbally said that before the training, only about 32 per cent of the adults expressed such confidence.

Wellington joins 11 other Victorian communities, including four in Gippsland, implementing the Live4Life model – Bass Coast, Baw Baw, the Latrobe Valley and South Gippsland. There is currently a waitlist of more than 20 rural and regional communities throughout Australia.

Youth Live4Life will partner with Yarram Secondary College, Maffra Secondary College, Sale Secondary College, Gippsland Grammar, Sale Specialist School, Catholic College Sale, Wellington Shire Council, Latrobe Regional Health and other health and community partners waiting to be onboarded to deliver the program in Wellington.

For more information, including further details on the Live4Life model, go to

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Headspace 1800 650 890