On 19 October 2018, just prior to and during the Monash Mental Health Forum at Oakleigh Grammar Conference Centre, Ms Claire O’Neill MP and Senator Deborah O’Neil announced that the Federal Parliamentary Australia Labor Party was committed to funding a headspace in the City of Monash if the party formed government after the 2019 federal election.
During a panel discussion at the forum, Ms O’Neill stressed this service would be placed where the need was greatest for young people in Monash.
This commitment came after the launch of the Raise Your Hand for Monash Campaign on 11 September 2018; a campaign which will continue until the goal of a headspace in Monash is reached and which has followed more than 4 years of advocacy from Monash City Council.
During my time with the headspace for Monash Campaign, I was part of a committee of young people who arranged for postcards in support of a headspace to be filled in and signed by young students and residents of Monash. More than 4000 of these postcards were delivered to the electoral office of the Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt, MP (Member for Flinders), in Hastings. As a committee we recognised and trusted the brand name of headspace and we were very enthusiastic about the idea of Monash having its very own.
Mental health has long been identified as one of, if not the most, important issue of concern to young people in Monash in various surveys over the past 6 years. The Youth Resilience Survey of 2017 has highlighted that stress, anxiety and depression affect large proportions of young people in Monash.
Some young people involved in the campaign have spoken about their own personal mental health challenges or those of friends and have used these experiences to inspire themselves and others to campaign for the cause. The message has been spread through social media videos highlighting the concern young people feel about their future and their mental wellbeing.
I believe the City of Monash should have a headspace because the municipality is one of the most populous in Victoria with a large youth population including numerous primary, secondary and tertiary students, in addition there is no headspace on the Glen Waverley train line. I’m sure the young people of Monash will continue to make their voices heard until the Federal Government, whether before or after the next election, establishes a headspace in Monash.
Written by Philip Liberatore (previous headspace4Monash campaign member)