Vital youth mental health service facing the axe

Happier days, at the opening of the Youth Hub in July 2022

The highly successful Youth Hub at Gosford will close its doors at the end of April unless a new source of funding can be found.

Despite alarming statistics revealing more young adults than ever are at risk, RYSS (Regional Youth Support Services) CEO Kim McLoughry said unless a miracle occurred, the service – a model that is considered NSW best practice – will have to close.

RYSS opened the Youth Hub two years ago, funded under the former Liberal Federal Government’s Safer Communities program.

“We are between a rock and a hard place; there is nowhere else we can apply,” McLoughry said.

“We have applied to all levels of government, state and federal.

“It’s a good model, a beautiful venue and great staff who do incredible work.

“We have to start letting people know the essential services we work with.”

She said recent research showed a 30 per cent increase in the number of adolescents presenting at emergency departments with mental health issues.

“There are so many holes in the system that these young people fall through, particularly for those aged 18 to 25, help just doesn’t exist.

“We need our politicians to step up and say this is a priority, and as important and as essential as a GP clinic.”

McLoughry said the Youth Hub had proved to be a cost-effective solution to breaking the cycle of homelessness, abuse and poor mental health that impacted on more Central Coast young people than in most other regions in NSW.

She said the dedicated staff and partner services had assisted more than 2,500 local young people across the region, delivering outreach services in anti-social ‘hot spots’ to 1,700 young people across the region including Tuggerah, Bateau Bay, Lake Haven, Kariong, Gosford CBD and the Peninsula.

It also offered targeted, individualised support to almost 700 vulnerable young people and provided life-skill building groups every school term to more than 270 young people.

“The Hub has directly tackled the impacts of mental illness, violence, sexual abuse and homelessness,” she said.

“It has been exciting to see the former Parkside model streamlined into this tailored one stop multi-service model, which is being researched as a model for youth service best practice in NSW.

“We have changed the trajectory of thousands of local young lives; it is now heartbreaking and illogical in this current difficult climate to not see any suitable source of funding available to see this through to the next stage of commitment.

“The Safer Communities funding has been unique under the previous Government.”

McLoughry said RYSS had recently pitched the model to Treasury advocating for more youth hubs across the Central Coast.

“We are committed to making our communities a better, safer place with our next generation and we require funding with commitment and vision,” she said.

The Youth Hub at Gosford is dedicated to helping improve the lives of vulnerable young people and families

Federal Member for Robertson Gordon Reid said he would be meeting with Social Services Minister Rishworth on Wednesday, February 14 to discuss the situation.

“RYSS is an important wraparound service providing support to young people on the Central Coast,” he said.

“I am meeting with Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth to discuss funding opportunities to ensure the viability of this service.”

“I will update RYSS following my meeting with the Minister, on the way forward”.

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said she had reached out to RYSS to offer assistance.

“I am saddened to hear that funding has not been secured for the continuation of the Gosford hub, which has previously been funded by the Federal Government,” she said.

“It is important that all levels of government support the establishment of youth services across the Coast, and I will continue to advocate for this across all levels of government.”

Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the imminent closure was a failure by the current Federal Government.

“It’s heartbreaking to see a truly outstanding organisation like RYSS have their programs put under threat by a complete failure to supply ongoing funding from the Federal Government,” he said.

“This is not the first time a local organisation has faced this issue, with the outstanding local organisation Clean4Shore also not receiving any funding under the current Federal Labor Government and also being forced to cut back on services they deliver to our community.

“I’m calling on the Federal Members for Robertson and Dobell to spend less time campaigning at hospitals which are not under threat and to actually do their jobs and work to secure the necessary funding for organisations like RYSS to ensure they have continuity of funding to deliver these vital support services to the Central Coast.

“I was proud to be part of the former Coalition government that provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional funding to RYSS to help upgrade their facilities such as the RYSS bus and other outstanding programs that they deliver to youth on the Central Coast,” Crouch said.

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