THE good news is the Border’s call for a headspace centre has been given a tacit tick of approval.
The bad news is, at the very best, we won’t see it for at least two years.
Yesterday, senior staff from the organisation that could deliver the youth mental health service to the Border met with those who want to run it.
Headspace director of centre expansion Pat O’Leary later told The Border Mail the groundswell of community support on the Border was almost unprecedented.
“We go to about four or five regional centres a year with this presentation,” he said.
“But we don’t often encounter the groundswell of public support that we see here in Albury-Wodonga.
“Those centres and towns are also not generally as well developed (in the organisation of local mental health services) as we are seeing here.
“But having said that, the bid will be stronger when it is perceived as Albury-Wodonga rather than two smaller cities.”
But Mr O’Leary said the time frame for a Border headspace was, at the earliest, January 2015.
“A decision will be made in August next year and experience tells us it takes about 15 months from that point to finally open the doors,” he said
Director of the Wodonga campus of the Albury Wodonga Health Mental Health Service, Peter Collicoat, said a cross-Border approach to winning a headspace centre was mandatory.
“It seems one of the key reasons we haven’t been given a headspace before this is that we are seen as two smaller towns rather than accounting for both sides of the Border,” he said.
“At the moment there is only one mental health program that sits across the Border — so headspace would add to that and that has to be to everyone’s advantage.”
Headspace Australia’s head of clinical programs, Liz Burgat, is responsible for overseeing the centres across the country.
She said while 75,000 youths had used the service, its effect in stopping youth suicide could not be fully measured.
“But we can, and continue to, evaluate the reduction in anxiety and stress levels as a result of using a headspace centre and the results are quite positive.”