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Youth Focus supporting youth into employment through new trial

Youth Focus will join a national trial to better support young people living with severe mental illnesses and help them into future education and work prospects.

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher and Federal Member for Hasluck Ken Wyatt today announced funding of $585,000 for a new Individual Placement and Support (IPS) trial site at headspace Midland, which is operated by Youth Focus.

The model targets vulnerable young people aged up to 25 who live with mental illness, are at-risk of disengaging from education or employment and long-term welfare dependency.

Under the initiative, participants can access a range of employment and education opportunities and supports as part of a comprehensive wrap-around service.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias welcomed the trial to headspace Midland, saying anything that helped support young people into further training and employment was a worthy initiative.

“As the lead agency for headspace Midland, we are delighted to have been awarded this contract, which will translate as an important opportunity to integrate mental health and employment services,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“Research shows unemployment is a very high unmet need for young people in general, and this is further compounded for young people with mental health challenges.

“When we talk to young people the thing that often seems to be lacking in their life is a sense of purpose and meaning. That sense of purpose and meaning often comes from having a valued role in society – and that valued role is often about having access to employment opportunities.
“The Individual Placement and Support program has demonstrated to be highly effective in increasing social and economic participation, as well as reducing social isolation and psychological distress.”

Midland is one of 10 new IPS trial sites around Australia that will aim to improve prospects for young people with mental illnesses. There are 16 sites already offering the program, including headspace Albany, which have been allocated funding for another two years.

The trial, which is being delivered at selected headspace centres, will run until June 2021.

Federal government statistics show that since the national trial started in November 2016, 438 of the 879 people have achieved education or employment placements during the trial in the first 18 months of the program.

Youth Focus has provided counselling and support to young people across WA for the past 25 years. Services also include suicide prevention education in the schools and the community, as well as web-counselling to regional and remote parts of the state.

Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 3678 young people and school and community education to another 6000.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443, [email protected]