Children in the Illawarra will soon have better access to specialised mental health services, with the region chosen as one of four locations in the state to receive a new Head to Health Kids Hub.
The hub is set to provide wraparound services for young children and their families, and will offer a range of medical and allied health services including access to psychiatrists, psychologists, paediatricians, nurses, social workers, peer workers and Aboriginal health workers.
NSW Minister for the Illawarra and South Coast Ryan Park said that having these services embedded in our local community would ensure help was available to people when they needed it most.
“As a father, I know how critical services like these are for families and to have one based in the Illawarra region means children and their parents can get the support they need, when they need it,” he said.
“The Head to Health Kids Hubs will be free services with no referral required, so they’ll be easily accessible for families in need of support.”
NSW Minister for Mental Health Rose Jackson said while a lot of work still needed to be done to ensure mental health support was being provided to people in need, these hubs were a step in the right direction.
“The increase in children experiencing mental health challenges is a serious call to action for Government. We know we must do more to support young Australians who are struggling with poor mental health,” Minister Jackson said.
“The kids hubs will make it easier to access holistic, wraparound mental health and wellbeing care for our youngest community members.”
The acting CEO of the region’s Primary Health Network Andrew Gow welcomed the announcement of a government-funded service based in Wollongong, which will outreach to the Shoalhaven.
“There is a clear need for this service within the region. We are aware of the work currently underway locally to support the increased demand for services for children requiring mental health support,” Andrew said.
“Services are struggling to keep up with the demand, and so a kids hub delivering comprehensive, multidisciplinary mental health and wellbeing care for children under 12 and their families, will help address the developmental risks currently being observed in the early childhood education and care sector as well as in our primary schools.”
The project is part of a $35.8 million joint investment by the State and Federal Governments, with hubs also announced for the Central Coast, Penrith and Orange, which will outreach to Bathurst.
The services will be progressively rolled out over the next four years, will all hubs operational by 2027.