NEW faces are bringing new ideas to Headspace Warrnambool.
The south-west youth mental health organisation introduced two new staff members in November – and both have set a clear focus for the new year.
A former teacher at Warrnambool College, Michael Hoffmann – working as community awareness and engagement coordinator – said there was a need to address mental health.
“What we know is that one-in-four young people aged between 12 and 25 will experience mental ill health each year – and we know that we are not seeing 25 per cent of young people in the south west, so we need to get the message out and get more young people in and get help for them,” he said.
Sam Maloney was previously a project manager at youth enterprise outlet, Kulcha Shift. Now the youth participation worker at Headspace Warrnambool, Mr Maloney said it was important for services to be youth-friendly and relatable.
“We want to make improvements and have young people want to come into the building,” he said.
“We want to break down stigmas about young people and mental health and make sure that schools and trade sectors know what Headspace offers and are confident in making referrals.”
The role of the new team will involve school and community group presentations, mental health promotion and events, employer support and facilitating a youth reference group.
“Our focus for this year is to make sure everyone in the community and all organisations including schools and trade centres know where they can get help for their young cohorts,” Mr Hoffman said.
“We would also like to hear from football and netball clubs and dance academies – or anyone working with groups of young people.
“Our biggest focus of this year is to work with the 20 to 25 year-old male group and the 12 to 14 year-old youth.
“These are the two groups that have been identified as having the greatest need.”
The first task facing the team is awarding scholarships to young people planning to study in 2017.
Three scholarships worth $3000 each are available for 12 to 25 year-olds enrolled in a minimum two-year course at either Deakin University or South West TAFE.
A group of Warrnambool cyclists, who rode 1100 kilometres from Sydney to Noosa in September 2015, raised the money.
“The scholarships are a reminder of the benefits that come with realising your achievements – which I’m sure was on the minds of the cyclists when they were on the road,” Mr Hoffman said.