The importance of the mental health of young people in the Lithgow region following the devastating bushfires of the 2019-20 bushfires is under the spotlight for all the right reasons.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole has announced funding of more than $326,000 from the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund for a joint venture between Headspace Lithgow and the Chifley/Lithgow Rural Fire Service (RFS).
Mr Toole said the funding would allow for the establishment of a RFS cadetship program titled “Youth Beyond the Flame”.
The program will address the high levels of distress and anxiety experienced by the young people in the Lithgow Local Government Area following the bushfires.
“We want these young people to forge meaningful connections, develop a sense of social responsibiilty and build leadership skills to support work readiness,” Mr Toole said.
According to Bonnie Bassett from headspace Lithgow, “Youth Beyond the Flame” will be a free service run by headspace that covers several goals and issues, including:
- Guiding young people to connect with the community
- Linking to other community supports
- Find volunteering opportunities
- Providing advice on CVs, applications and interview techniques
- Career planning and goal setting
- How to get started and stay motivated and build routines
- Communication skills
- Build confidence
- Plan, set and achieve education, training and career goals
- Assist with balancing mental health and wellbeing with work or study
- Learn about the individual personal strengths and unique skills.
“At headspace Lithgow we will be running monthly ‘Beyond the Flame’ workshops,” Bonnie said.
“These are for young people aged 14-25-years who need support to navigate their way through work or study.
“If young people feel uncomfortable attending a group, we will have a coordinator who can provide brief one-on-one support instead.”
Ms Bassett said that headspace Lithgow will also be working in partnership with the Chifley/Lithgow (RFS) to support the Secondary School Cadet Program (SSCP).
“Throughout the SSCP, cadets learn and develop many skills, including an understanding of fire behaviour and dangers; setting up equipment and themselves to attack a fire; communication; leadership and teamwork,” she said.
“The incorporation of headspace Lithgow within the SSCP program will be put to each of the schools involved and, where possible, utilized to benefit the many cadets participating in the program to help with maintaining a healthy headspace during the bushfire season, how to cope with the stress of natural disasters and support and guidance to strengthen their ability to manage their mental health in the future.”
Pictured from Left to right: Member for Bathurst Paul Toole, Scott McLennon, Elise Gale, Hannah Yee and Bonnie Bassett @ Headspace Lithgow