Hub to help youth most in need

A ONE-STOP hub to provide a holistic support service for young people, similar to the national Headspace model, could be established in Port Lincoln.

Two local organisations - West Coast Youth and Community Support and Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Services - are in the early stages of exploring the possibility of a shared service delivery model to support young people in Port Lincoln and surrounding regions in the areas of health, social and emotional wellbeing and drug and alcohol misuse and education.

The idea came from the community forum held earlier this year and is being explored in conjunction with the TEAM - Together Eyre Achieves More group that began as a result of this forum.

West Coast Youth and Community Service provides a youth-focussed counsellor as part of its range of services and the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service has a drug and alcohol, and social and emotional well being program on offer, along with many other primary health services, but both services can see the benefits of working together.

West Coast Youth and Community Support chief executive officer Jo Clark said developing the idea for a Headspace centre - a National Youth Mental Health Foundation initiative - for the region had been on the agenda for a long time but that option may be a long way off.

In the meantime she said local organisations had recognised they could pool resources and work together to deliver a similar holistic model of service for young people.

"It would be amazing to have a space where we could ensure that there was someone qualified on certain days of the week to talk with young people and refer into the counsellor and health services depending on their need."

She said West Coast Youth and Community Support was seeing more and more young people who "do not fit the box" for other funding or services, including those who were self harming.

While the service can support many young people who are homeless or disengaged from education through government funded programs, Ms Clarke said there was a cohort of young people quietly going unnoticed and unsupported.

"These young people are some of the most in need however display no outwards signs."

She said both services believed offering skilled therapeutic support and health services combined with the unique skills of a youth worker would support young people to link back into the community.

They expect the concept would incorporate clinical services from Medicare Local and Country Health SA.

Port Lincoln City Councillor Travis Rogers said while the city offered many social services supporting people with general and mental health, counselling, education, employment, and alcohol and other drug services, he thought there were opportunities for organisations and agencies to deliver services more efficiently though shared service agreements and collaboration.

"In my view, one of the issues in Port Lincoln is that many young people delay seeking a service or support they need because people do not necessarily know the best place to seek assistance."

He said young people were most likely to talk to friends or family members as their first step in seeking help and these people were often also unsure about what support was available.

"Utilising our community's current services and strengths by establishing a 'one-stop hub' that is accessible for young people between 12 and 24 would be the best way in tackling the issues around accessibility and appropriate health and social services."

Ms Clark said they were looking for general practitioners with an interest in youth health to look at supporting the development of a realistic model of service for this region.

"We would also really like to hear from young people about what they think a service like this might mean to them, what they would like it to be called, what a logo might look like and also to be involved in planning for this exciting service."

Any interested young people or doctors are encouraged to contact West Coast Youth and Community Support with questions.

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