Health Minister Greg Hunt on Prince Street announcing funding for a Headspace in Grafton.
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Prince Street announcing funding for a Headspace in Grafton. Caitlan Charles

Pleas heard: Headspace is on the way

LEADING youth mental health provider Headspace is finally coming to Grafton after intensive campaigning by the community.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was in Grafton yesterday to announce the Clarence Valley will be the first of 10 areas to receive a Headspace as part of the Our Healthy Clarence plan.

Director of the Headspace board Professor Patrick McGorry AO said after many years of helping young people from the Clarence in Coffs Harbour, this move was a positive step forward.

"Listening to the Our Healthy Clarence plan (made by) Wendy Pannach and her amazing group of people, it gave a sense of hope but it also gave a sense of a very strong community," Prof McGorry said.

"A strong, healthy community that are tackling a serious issues."

Mr Hunt said the Our Health Clarence plan, which was designed to bring the community together for the well-being and mental health of the Clarence Valley, also provided hope to the community.

"The Our Healthy Clarence plan is built on a sense of hope but backed by practical action and the name of the plan says everything," Mr Hunt said.

"It's built on a sense of hope and community, which is taking the lead in defining its own future."

The plan has three parts, the first being a youth mental health centre in Grafton.

"There will be a Headspace here in Grafton that will have ongoing, permanent funding. The initial four years will be approximately $4.5million," Mr Hunt said.

"Dr Vahid (Saberi, North Coast Primary Health Network chief executive) will be working to get this up within a matter of months - not a long plan, it's right under way.

"This is about a one-stop shop, youth mental health services to add to the existing services so it's a safe place and supportive place," Mr Hunt said.

"Secondly, $100,000 of commonwealth funding to support suicide prevention and response services in the town - that's about the work of Cranes and mental health first aid, working with indigenous communities and working with grief and trauma for those communities who have been through the most terrible loss.

"Finally, there will be additional psychiatric services that will be available both in person and now through telemedicine - the primary health network is putting that together."

Our Healthy Clarence chair Wendy Pannach said the community had been calling for a Headspace centre for quite some time.

"It's a tribute to the strength of this community that this announcement has come today," she said.

"Headspace is a great model for providing services to young people where they access lots of different services in one spot.

"These aren't just health services but services to help with drug and alcohol use, education and employment.

"We are excited about the expertise a Headspace centre will bring to the region. It's been hard to attract health professionals to the Clarence Valley and Headspace has such a positive image that we know health professionals will be keen to work there.

"Headspace is only one part of the picture, though. The community and service providers have worked for some time to produce the Our Healthy Clarence plan.

"We need to make sure we remember not only other clinical services which are needed, but we're also working on rolling out training for the community, working with schools, and focussing on early intervention and prevention."

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