Wyndham Council has threatened to cut funding to Anglicare Victoria’s Youth Futures counselling service.
The service, which has been operating in Wyndham for 15 years, offers free, flexible counselling to young people, to help prevent and treat early symptoms of mental health disorders, including suicide prevention and depression.
Program Manager Sandra Inserra said it would be a significant loss for the local community.
“Youth Futures feeds into a whole range of other youth and family support services in Wyndham, all of which are desperately needed,” she said.
“Wyndham’s population is growing so fast…actually we need more services like this, not less…even now we’re fighting to keep down our waitlist.
“A couple of months ago, local MP Tim Pallas was singing our praises in Parliament, and now we’re being shut down.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said the proposed cuts were “staggering”.
“It lacks foresight that a council wants to cut youth services in one of the fastest LGAs in Australia, when the evidence suggests youth issues will present some of the greatest policy challenges in the years to come.”
Youth Futures is the only free youth counselling service in Wyndham that offers flexibility in location, which is a critical factor for some young people.
Ms Inserra said there was generally a shortage of preventative treatment options.
“Sure, if a young person has established symptoms of mental illness, they can get a mental health plan and there are lots of ways to get help,” she said.
“But it’s too late by then…we need to make it easy to get treatment before the problem takes over.
“If Youth Futures closes down, we know a significant number of these young people will fall through the gaps, and by the time we see them again they may be presenting with established mental health problems.
“We can’t let an overcrowded, sterile waiting room be the only option.”
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A young program participant is available for comment and photographs.
Program Manager Sandra Inserra and Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald are available for comment.
Contact Susan Wilson for more information:
Phone: 0488 100 630