“Sometimes young people don’t seem to know what they need until there’s an incidental conversation,” she said.
The center received $3.5 million through the Eastern Metropolitan Primary Health Network and was fully operational as of September 2021. But it hasn’t spent its entire grant.
Sestan said federal and state elections, a change of government and interim terms had made it difficult to find additional funding.
“I was incredibly naive about how political the environment is right now,” she said.
Representatives from the center attempted to meet twice with the federal Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride, but the meetings were cancelled. The center and the local council have also written to the federal government, requesting more funding.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Elder Care said: “The Australian Government is working closely with the East Melbourne Primary Health Network and the Victorian Government to ensure that all young people accessing services at Lilydale Youth Hub are connected with alternative supports in Yarra. Cordillera region.
Yarra Ranges Mayor Jim Child wrote to Federal Health Minister Mark Butler saying the center was “the only facility of its kind that is accessible and available to young people in the Yarra Ranges. It provides a comprehensive service that fills critical health and wellness gaps within the municipality.”
Jane Price, the council’s director of communities, said: “It is disappointing that no level of government receives ongoing funding.”
The state government launched a 10-year mental health plan in 2015, but Sestan said funding for centers like Lilydale Youth was not yet available.
The Eastern Metropolitan Primary Health Network was unable to fund services after Dec. 31 and had worked to dismantle the center for a few months, CEO Janine Wilson said.
“The time-limited funding that was provided to support this three-year program was originally until June 30, 2022. In recognition of the late 2021 COVID lockdown in Melbourne, this has been extended to the end of the year.”
Withers-Burke said it was encouraging to see the changes in young people who had accessed core services such as group art therapy.
“Most of the people I saw in that group are still here today, but they are completely different people.”
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