SUCCESS: Clarence Valley Council youth development officer Giane Smajstr with, Gabby Andrews, Zak Masters, Jeremy Jablonski and Hannah Craig from Clarence Youth Action. The past 12 months has seen advocate groups make massive inroads in addressing youth mental health issues across the Clarence Valley.
SUCCESS: Clarence Valley Council youth development officer Giane Smajstr with, Gabby Andrews, Zak Masters, Jeremy Jablonski and Hannah Craig from Clarence Youth Action. The past 12 months has seen advocate groups make massive inroads in addressing youth mental health issues across the Clarence Valley. Caitlan Charles

Youth mental health framework a win for the Clarence

DESPERATE pleas for more youth mental health services in the Clarence Valley have been answered.

In the past 12 months the scaffolding for strong youth support has been firmly built in the Valley as government, community groups and service providers establish essential services.

The issue has been in the spotlight in the Clarence Valley for several years, and according to Clarence Valley Council youth development officer Giane Smajstr, the community is now "smashing goals”.

Our Healthy Clarence, Clarence Valley Pride LGBTI group, Headspace, Clarence Youth Action,the New School of Arts new youth and community pop-up hubs, a reinvigorated Out of the Box program, the My Future Fest, AYA Music Fest, the 24 Hour Ride for Youth and the recent announcement of a PCYC in Grafton are giving the youth of the Clarence Valley hope for the future.

"Our community has a big heart,” Ms Smajstr said.

"It is committed to working together to make it a better place for young people.

"In particular the Clarence Youth Action group who have put in an incredible amount of hours and commitment into achieving their goals.

"It's been exciting and inspirational working alongside so many people who are passionate about young people and their wellbeing and future.

"Our Healthy Clarence, CYA and the support services have come as a result of advocacy and will continue to get the message out there about what services are available in the community.”

A co-ordinated approach is what has made the initiatives so successful.

"There was a need for collaboration in dealing with the issues,” Ms Smajstr said. "By establishing that co-ordinated approach, we've been able to achieve much more by working with other organisations.

"I think now we're at a point where we can add sustainability to what's happening.

Ms Smajstr is particularly proud of the work CYA has accomplished, now standing on its own two feet as she prepares to leave her role as youth development officer.

"It's been hard work. It hasn't been easy but it's been an amazing and humbling experience.”



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