$26.8 million investment to support young Australians

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government is continuing our support for the mental health and wellbeing of children and young Australians with a $26.8 million investment in Yourtown’s Kids Helpline.

Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, particularly children and young people, remains one of the Australian Government’s highest priorities.

It is estimated that more than three quarters of mental health conditions begin before the age of 25, and there are approximately 630,000 young people with mild to moderate mental illness nationally.

Providing early support is vital in helping young people get back on track and can minimise longer-term impacts.

Kids Helpline has played a vital role in our efforts to protect and nurture the emotional wellbeing and lives of children and young people across Australia.

The service provides a free, private and confidential 24/7 telephone and webchat counselling support, specifically for young people aged 5 to 25 years. Its unique model allows a young person to contact the same counsellor on an ongoing basis and doesn’t place a limit on the length of counselling sessions.

Kids Helpline also publishes online articles on a range of mental health and wellbeing issues, including early intervention and self-help strategies individually tailored for each age group, and provides information and referrals, one-off counselling support, and ongoing counselling and case management in conjunction with face-to-face services.

The additional funding for Kids Helpline includes $24 million to support operations over the next four years, and a further $2.8 million to meet the immediate demand caused by the pandemic.

This funding means that children and young people will continue to get the help they need to deal with issues ranging from mental health problems to family relationships, child abuse, suicide and self-harm.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said Kids Helpline had provided lifesaving care in times of crisis, practical advice or a place to turn to so young Australians know that they are not alone.

“Never has this support been more important that in the last 18 months, with the effects of Black Summer Bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic putting significant pressure on the mental health and wellbeing of many,” Minister Hunt said.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said Kids Helpline’s incredible work has made a real difference in the lives of children and families across Australia.

“I would like to thank all those involved in Kids Helpline for their invaluable contributions to the health and wellbeing of children and young adults in Australia,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.

The funding is part of the Government’s $2.3 billion National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan – a landmark commitment to transform the mental health system and ensure that all Australians can access the right care and essential services whenever and wherever they need.

In a first for Australia, the Plan includes a specific focus on the mental health of children under 12 and their parents and carers, including:

  • $54.2 million to establish a network of Head to Health Kids mental health centres in conjunction with the states and territories
  • $42.3 million to provide parenting tools and support, and
  • $111.4 million to allow parents and carers to use two sessions under the Better Access initiative to discuss their child’s care needs with their treating practitioner, while supporting their own mental health and wellbeing.

These investments will ensure better social and health outcomes for our young people, giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential in life, and safeguarding the long-term future of our country.

The funding reinforces our Government’s strong commitment achieving better mental health for all Australians, and will complement the existing investment of $6.3 billion in mental health services in 2021-22.

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), Lifeline (13 11 14), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au).

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