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Support for young and older people

This month I had the pleasure of being involved in the launch of a new strategy aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of our young people.


RPA Hospital Open Day, November 5. Photo: Supplied
RPA Hospital Open Day, November 5. Photo: Supplied

There is currently much to celebrate in relation to young people in Sydney Local Health District. Many young people feel positive, are resilient, experience supportive relationships and feel socially connected and safe, and are physically and emotionally healthy.

However, we know disparities in access to employment, education and a healthy urban environment can impact the way young people live their lives.

The period of adolescence and early young adulthood is also characterised by significant developmental transitions, in relation to identity, autonomy, risk-taking and relationships.

The latest data from Headspace, released last month as part of Mental Health Month, showed nearly one in three young Australians aged 12 to 25 years reported high or very high levels of psychological distress – more than treble the rate in 2007.

It is vital that young people are supported to successfully navigate these developmental phases and have access to care and support when they are struggling.

One of the challenges facing our health system is the need for meaningful coordination and cooperation across government and non-government agencies who have responsibility for the welfare of our community. The Inner West Sydney Youth Health and Wellbeing Plan signals the commitment of the District, Family and Community Services, the Department of Education, and Central and Eastern Sydney PHN (representing local general practitioners, or GPs) to collaborate to provide services that are youth-friendly, accessible, responsive, integrated and coordinated.

The plan was launched at a fantastic event at Strathfield Girls High School. Schools in the area were invited to send student and teacher representatives to hear from a panel of speakers including Isaiah Dawe, the founder of ID Know Yourself. Isaiah set up a mentoring program for Indigenous young people living in out-of-home care after spending his childhood in more than a dozen foster homes. The students – and the teachers – listened in awe as Isaiah described how he lifted himself out of adversity to be awarded TAFE NSW Graduate of the year 2017 – the first Indigenous person to ever do so.

Isaiah is heavily involved in the Redfern community, taking part in Tribal Warrior’s Clean Slate Without Prejudice, a boxing program run in the mornings, three days a week. He has also provided respite care for a number of young Aboriginal kids in Redfern.

If you or someone you know might need mental health support contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 for more information about youth mental health services in the District.

This month I also had the privilege of meeting and talking with older people in our community at the RPA Hospital Open Day. Our diversity and multicultural health workers arranged for groups of Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese speaking people to tour the hospital, including the emergency department, to learn more about how to access healthcare in a timely and appropriate way. It was a wonderful opportunity to identify new ways we can help the more vulnerable members of our community to navigate the health system.

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