ALBURY-Wodonga will get one of 15 new headspace youth mental health services to support young people dealing with depression, substance abuse and other mental health issues.
Yesterday’s unexpected announcement by federal Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler is the successful culmination of a 10-month campaign for the centre by the Border community.
The campaign followed the launch of The Border Mail’s Ending the Suicide Silence series last August.
The push for a headspace centre went to Canberra last November when more than 4000 signed butterflies and a petition with close to 2000 signatures were presented to Mr Butler by The Border Mail and former Albury mayor Stuart Baker.
Mr Butler told the delegation that Albury-Wodonga’s stand as one community gave the Border’s bid “a very strong case”.
Last night, he congratulated the Border region on a strong campaign.
“The people of Albury-Wodonga and the staff at The Border Mail have clearly and passionately argued the case for a headspace service in their community,” Mr Butler said.
“I have no doubt this service will greatly benefit the young people in this area, ensuring they have the support needed to reach their fullest potential.”
Confirmation of new headspace sites had been expected in the next fortnight but it is believed Mr Butler brought forward the announcement ahead of a possible federal Cabinet reshuffle this weekend by new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr Butler said one in four young people would experience a mental health issue this year, making it the single biggest issue facing young Australians.
“However, three quarters of these people aren’t receiving the professional help they need because of a lack of access to youth-specific mental health services or because they don’t know who to turn to,” he said.
“With the right early interventions we can give young people a better future and help them fully participate in the social and economic life of our community.”
Mr Butler said more than $200 million was spent on 90 headspace sites across the country.