The Brumby Government has been applauded for a $3.6 million commitment to tackle youth suicide, specifically targeting same-sex attracted and Indigenous youth.
The funding — over four years — was announced last week as part of the 2010-11 budget and includes a $100,000 one-off boost to rural same-sex attracted youth support group the WayOut Project.
Victorian mental health minister Lisa Neville told Southern Star new staff would be employed in community and youth centres across the state to offer support and an early intervention service for GLBTI youth.
“[For] those young people at risk of depression and anxiety as a result of discrimination and homophobia … we need to have the right support to provide the intervention,” she said.
“We want to work with the community, that’s why we’ve provided some support to WayOut, to work with us to make sure we are well targeted, that [the services] reach the young people.”
Neville said four new youth suicide community support programs — two in Melbourne and two in rural Victoria — would be established.
“In terms of getting it on the ground and making it work properly … we’ll continue the conversations and use the expertise of people like WayOut,” she said.
“It needs to have a community focus … to really make a difference across a number of platforms in which young people are in danger.”
WayOut project coordinator Sue Hackney said the $100,000 funding boost was critical.
“We had some funding run out in March,” Hackney told Southern Star.
“It is a significant contribution and it will ensure the [WayOut Rural] Youth Council is supported and can really get some traction.”
Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria director Anne Mitchell said the fund was a “positive step” and said the four-year time frame for delivery was sufficient.
GLBTI mental health advocate Rob Mitchell said he was pleased with the outcome.
“We are light years ahead of where we were,” he told Southern Star. “The figure is about right and I’m really glad WayOut is finally getting the support it deserves.”
Headspace CEO Chris Tanti welcomed the support of same-sex attracted young people, but said more investment was needed for youth mental health services across the board.