Hayley Finger, Anglicare Coordinator of Counselling and Youth with Fiona Hardgrave, Central Queensland Rural Health Project Officer.
Hayley Finger, Anglicare Coordinator of Counselling and Youth with Fiona Hardgrave, Central Queensland Rural Health Project Officer.

Getting in the right headspace for youth

WITH Federal Government funding for a headspace in Emerald secured this year, local support services and community members have spent the past few months dedicated to working behind the scenes, setting up committees and facilitating monthly youth get-togethers.

Three committees have been co-ordinated to establish the foundations for the service which will be designed to allow support providers to collaborate in their efforts to help young people in the region.

Central Queensland Rural Health Project Officer Fiona Hardgrave said one committee consisted of a consortium of local agencies, a second was a community reference group of family, friends and community members who would help promote headspace services, and the third was a youth reference group.

Ms Hardgrave, who is on the committees for the local agencies and the community reference group, said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was currently being signed by the various groups who would be working together.

“We want to let people know that although you can’t physically see headspace yet, there’s a lot of work going on to build partnerships and get things happening which is really exciting for the Central Highlands.”

She said headspace would allow organisations to work together and provide a one-stop shop for youth dealing with issues including their general health, work and study stress, mental health, and alcohol and drugs.

“One thing I hear a lot is that people didn’t know about the agencies or services that were available so hopefully headspace will be able to highlight some of the organisations that are doing fantastic work.”

Ms Hardgrave wants young people to realise that “no problem is ever too small or too big”.

“There are people here that want the best for them and we as a community can work together to help anyone,” she said.

“It’s about information sharing and people working together so the youth don’t have to go from Anglicare to the Department of Housing and back to a mental health service and repeat their story 10 times — they only have to say it once.”

Anglicare Co-ordinator of Counselling and Youth Hayley Finger said that by June this year Anglicare had received more referrals for youth support than it had throughout all of last year.

“One reason for that is that we played a big role in the community last year and more people became aware of our services and other services,” she said.

She also said that stakeholders and clinicians were working more closely together to provide support and young people were realising that “it’s okay to ask for help” and were wanting to engage with support services.

She said that with PCYC and Central Highlands Regional Council, Anglicare was running a monthly get-together for young people as a way to provide a “safe space” network for youth.

On the first Friday of every month, the night is open to youth aged 10 and older — children younger than 10 can also attend if accompanied by an adult.

At the first night held In August, 30 young people attended a games evening and in September an event themed ‘the escape room’ was held.

“We’re encouraging young people to connect with services in an informal way and it’s about providing a safe place for that. The feedback from parents has been really good.”

She said the ‘escape room’ night, which local police attended, was set up as a crime scene and more than 60 young people worked together to look for clues and solve the crime.

Ms Finger said other speakers would be invited to the monthly events and talk to youth about local services around mental health, employment and training, and drug and alcohol support.

The next event will be a laser tag night with a sausage sizzle from 6pm-8pm on October 4 at the Emerald PCYC.

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