HEADSPACE: Aimee’s dream fulfilled

BEFORE taking her life at the age of 20, Aimee Koehler dreamt of a place on the Border where only young people could go to for help, her mother says.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that dream would come true.

Headspace Albury Wodonga got the green light to open in October at Gateway Health in Wodonga.

Leanne Koehler said it was comforting to know young people would now get the support that was lacking when Aimee needed it.

“We tragically lost our Aimee in March 2012 and through her legacy of wanting to help other young people, we will too,” she said.

Mrs Koehler first told her story as part of The Border Mail’s Ending The Suicide Silence campaign in August 2012.

That campaign culminated in a trip to Canberra when former Albury mayor Stuart Baker presented 2000 signatures and more than 4000 signed butterflies to the then federal health minister Mark Butler.

In June 2013, federal funding was confirmed for a headspace mental health service especially for the region’s young people.

“As Aimee’s mum, though my feelings are mixed, they are also filled with comfort knowing of the hope and future for our young people headspace has to offer,” Mrs Koehler said.

“As sad as it is for us as a family, we are happy it’s here for other families.”

The new service will be located at the rear of Gateway, allowing youngsters, if they wish, to use a quiet car park entrance instead of busy High Street.

Mental Health manager Loretta Foster said having the headspace located at Gateway meant young people would have direct access to other services, including general practitioners, drug and alcohol support workers and a sexual health clinic.

“All that support is already there and it is well known to young people,” she said.

Gateway is the lead agency for the headspace Albury-Wodonga Consortium, a group of agencies across the Border who will work together.

Chief executive Leonard Peady said contracts had been received.

“We are already consulting with a range of young people to get their input and ideas into the design,” he said.

“It is important that it is welcoming, safe and friendly for young people from diverse backgrounds.”

Mr Peady acknowledged the key role The Border Mail had taken in securing headspace funding and thanked editor Di Thomas for taking on the role of consortium chairperson.

Recruitment of staff, including a manager, will begin next month.