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New Gippsland mental health service to provide holistic support for young people

Media release


4 March 2024

Five teenagers in school uniforms, walking along a path and wearing back packs

We’re proud to announce our role as a provider of a new Youth Enhanced Service that will provide enhanced mental health support for young people and their families in Gippsland. 

Through a psychiatry-led interdisciplinary team approach, the Gippsland Youth Enhanced Service (YES) will provide enhanced support to young people 12-25 years of age who are living with, or at risk of severe and complex mental health issues, and who require a greater level of support than what can be provided by GPs, private clinicians, headspace services and school counsellors. Often referred to as the system’s ‘missing middle’, the needs of this cohort of young people are typically considered to be too complex to be met by the primary mental health care system, but not acute enough for the tertiary mental health system. As a result, these young people often do not receive consistent care or appropriate mental health services because of service ineligibility, and consequently, they may not gain timely access to quality interventions and support. 

Funded by Gippsland Primary Health Network, YES will be provided by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) in the areas of Wellington, East Gippsland, South Gippsland and Bass Coast. The program will include holistic and high-quality mental health and psycho-social supports that will be continuously adapted to meet the changing needs of young people. The service will be established and delivered with a focus on enhancing access to support, so that all young people can receive support regardless of the complexity of their mental health issues.

With a commitment to providing services to all members of the community, RAV’s YES will be tailored to meet the needs of young people from diverse backgrounds, to ensure all clients have access to support that is sensitive and appropriate for their cultural, linguistic, religious and socio-economic background, and their sexual orientation and gender.

‘We are excited to be introducing this inclusive, evidence-based and responsive service, which is being designed collaboratively with young people, families and the local community,’ Manager Youth Mental Health Services, Cate Chaiyot said.

‘We know that it’s crucial for young people who are experiencing mental health challenges to have early access to support services. It’s equally important for those services to adapt as the needs of a young person change and because of what support the young person wants,’ Senior Manager Operations Regional Victoria, Jo Huggins said.  

RAV has over 60 years’ experience delivering services in Gippsland, and strong knowledge of the needs and challenges faced by people living in regional and rural areas. Across the region, RAV currently provides regional counselling, a dedicated service centre in Traralgon, its i-Connect Family Mental Health Support Service, bushfire and drought counselling, and 3 headspace sites in Gippsland and East Gippsland. In 2022-23, more than 30% of RAV’s clients’ needs related to their mental health.  

‘For young people in rural areas, travel and other factors can make it difficult to find and access support and appointments. That’s why prioritising service availability and accessibility is central to our YES program,’ Ms Huggins said. 

Services will be provided both in-person and through telehealth, from our existing headspace sites in Bairnsdale, Sale and Wonthaggi, and additional outreach locations, ensuring accessibility across the regions. 

The YES program, which is based on a model developed by Orygen, will be delivered in partnership with the following agencies and private/general practitioners: 

  • Youth Advocacy and Support Service 
  • Eating Disorders Victoria 
  • Dr Leeanne Fisher, Deputy Chief Psychiatrist 
  • Jo Rouse, Senior Occupational Therapist, The Social Confidence Collective
  • Dr Erin Dolan, Clinical Psychologist, Erin Dolan and Associates
  • Dr Anna Howsen, General Practitioner, Wonthaggi Medical Group

The program will also work to promptly connect young people with support, by working collaboratively with a network of over 70 local organisations, schools, health services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. 

Services will be implemented progressively from May 2024, with a full suite of services operational by July 2024. 

‘At its core, YES is about enabling young people to be safe, feel supported and empowered to make decisions about their healthcare journeys,’ Ms Huggins said.

‘We look forward to working collaboratively with young people and their families in Gippsland from May, and providing much-needed timely and accessible services.’ 

Media enquiries:
Jo Huggins, Senior Manager Operations Regional Victoria at Relationships Australia Victoria
Ph: 0448 558 708

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