Faced with the difficult task of dealing with multiple suicides in Wangaratta over the past year, many community leaders wanted to help, but were left with the question: “what the hell do we do?”.
Wangaratta Council is now making a pitch for federal government funding for a “grit and resilience approach” program, to coordinate the city’s services.
Community wellbeing director Jaime Chubb said part of the program would focus on the need for resilience to get through challenges.
“We’re experiencing significant rates of suicide and there’s a lot of concern about that, so the other side of the program will be to really focus on the prevention of suicide and a coordinated response,” she said.
“It’s time for us to do something and we think this is exactly what our community needs.”
The goal is to spark conversations in families, schools and sporting clubs so they can help when faced with mental health issues.
It will be aimed at young people as well older residents, such as farmers who are a concern during tough financial times of drought.
“It feels like we’re free falling and it’s really hard to get a grasp on how we protect our community … We really want to flip the conversation to a much more positive light and have a real strength-based approach to this,” Ms Chubb said.
“What we want is our community, regardless of their age or where they live within our municipality, for everybody to be as healthy as well as they can.”
Ms Chubb, Cr Dave Fuller and Albury-Wodonga Health and Northeast Health representatives will meet with Health Minister Greg Hunt in Canberra next week.
She said they will be asking for between $500,000 and $1 million to support a five-year pilot program that would have an innovating, long-term approach.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan has backed the project and helped set up the meeting, saying mental health and access to services had been a long-standing issue.
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