Michelle Lensink

Rann Government Trashes Youth Mental Health Website

The Rann Government has cut funding from youth mental health program Headroom forcing the organisation to close, Shadow Minister Michelle Lensink said today.

Ms Lensink said the Department of Health advised Headroom that they would no longer fund the project as of December 31, 2006 and had spent $15,000 on a study to determine if and how the impact of the closure would affect South Australian youth.

Headroom was launched in 1997 by Liberal Minister Dean Brown to increase awareness and understanding of mental health among young South Australians. Headroom material is written by young people for young people, and is distributed to schools and youth organisations around South Australia.

Ms Lensink said it was a disgrace that the Rann Government had now denied young South Australians the opportunity to access the services which are uniquely focused on them.

“Many young people are not comfortable talking about how they feel with adults and now the Rann Government has denied them access to information specifically tailored to young people,” Ms Lensink said.

“The Headroom website is unique as it offers information and advice for those as young as six years old covering topics such as bullying, friends and understanding emotions.

“Uniquely, the Headroom project worked in partnership with young people to keep the information relevant to the target audience. In 2002 a contributor to the website was even awarded the Youth Media Award and the Headroom team are often at youth orientated events such as the Big Day Out handing out brochures and information.

“By cutting this program the Rann Government has once again proven that it not only has no regard for the mental health system, but it also regards our youth as second class citizens.

“The government should be nurturing and providing our youth with the best mental health services possible. Young South Australian’s are our future and they deserve the best we have to offer.

“I am absolutely stunned at the government’s decision to stop funding this program. I cannot understand the reasoning behind this and I hope that they will be able to offer the community some sort of explanation soon.”

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