By Jackson Russell
A new Youth Services Hub is set for Wallan after Mitchell Shire councillors unanimously approved a lease on a property in Wellington Street.
The Bridge Youth Services will lease the building for a four-year term, with the hub to cater to the needs of the growing population of young people in the southern part of Mitchell Shire.
Council officers anticipate the number of people aged 12 to 24 in Wallan and Beveridge to grow from about 3400 in 2020 to 18,500 in 2040.
The aim of the Wallan Youth Services Hub is to provide early delivery of services such as mental health assessment and care, crisis management, family support, group work, and vocational and educational assistance to Mitchell Shire youth.
The council-owned property at 119 Wellington Street was previously occupied by a kindergarten but is now unoccupied and undergoing substantial redevelopment.
Construction is expected to be completed in early June before the lease takes affect from July 1.
Council will receive $27,500 in rental income over the term of lease, starting at $500 in year one and increasing incrementally to $12,000 in year four.
An expression of interest process was undertaken in March 2018, which was won by The Bridge Youth Services.
The Shepparton-based service has been serving the community since 1995 and has had a weekly staff presence in Wallan.
The Bridge Youth Services can provide young people with housing assistance, school and education support, pregnancy, parenting and family services and help improve family relationships.
South ward councillor Rob Eldridge said mental health was big problem for growing communities such as Wallan and Beveridge.
“For many of the mental health facilities we rely on, Wallan residents need to go to Shepparton or Seymour which is quite a distance and is actually out of the reach of many people who are in this situation due to lack of transport,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity to assist in the establishment of youth services for mental health and I’m proud council is undertaking this initiative.”
South ward councillor Bob Cornish agreed, saying he often heard of the need for mental health services in his role on council’s youth steering committee.
“Every time, mental health is brought up as an issue for young and old alike,” he said.
“When it comes to the growth expected in the southern part of the shire, it’s an issue that’s not going to go away. Hopefully this centre will be a great success.”