A $1.74-million one-stop-shop providing essential youth support is now open in Wallan.
The Bridge Youth Service will manage the facility, providing a suite of services as well as assisting other providers outreaching to the area.
Services that will be available include housing and homelessness services, mental health, substance abuse, family relationships and support for young parents.
There will be a variety of early intervention programs including family reconciliation, adolescent support, links to education, future parenting programs and school disengagement.
The former Wellington Street kindergarten building has been transformed thanks to Mitchell Shire Council’s in-kind contribution of $1.09 million and $645,789 from the State Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund.
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green and Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson officially opened the youth hub on Friday.
It is envisaged new group programs and other services will be provided once the facility is opened.
The hub features youth social spaces; consulting rooms; intake rooms; GP room; modern reception and waiting area; landscaped open space, seating and shade; and open plan kitchen.
Cr Sanderson said the initiative had been a key focus for the youth council who worked alongside Mitchell Shire Council to highlight the need for increased youth services, particularly mental health support in the area.
The Youth Services Hub also ticks two vital boxes recommended by The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – providing early intervention and offering services much closer to home.
“Youth mental health and wellbeing is a priority for our community, and the youth hub will provide essential support services to our young people,” she said.
“Projects like the youth hub are imperative to keeping up with the growth in our communities and to delivering on our commitment to provide a healthy, connected and sustainable community now and into the future.
“We’ve seen first-hand from young people and service providers in the community how important locally accessible services are. It’s good to be to be able to give an old building a new lease on life for a good cause.”
Youth mayor Thomas Starkey said having a youth hub in Mitchell Shire was crucial to the health and wellbeing of young people in the community.
“Being able to access mental health support locally means young people can get the help they need without having to travel hours on public transport or wait months for appointments. This support will change lives and set young people up for a positive future,” he said.
The Bridge Youth Service chief executive Melinda Lawley said improving access to services was crucial, as was providing effective and easy pathways, closer to the young people’s homes and their families.
“Working with other providers, we will be able to coordinate and integrate support for young people closer to their homes,” she said.
“We are working hard to attract new mental health funding for young people in Wallan and the whole Mitchell area.”