14 September 2020

$400,000 mental health grants hit the community

| Dominic Giannini
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Male with arm around female in field.

More than $400,000 in mental health grants have been allocated by the ACT Government this week. Photo: File.

An online space for young people to develop their hobbies, expressionist theatre for seniors, and local business coaching and mentoring are just a few of the programs that have received funding to help improve the mental health of Canberrans.

More than $400,000 worth of mental health grants have been allocated across Canberra this week as part of the $4.5 million mental health stimulus package which was announced back in May.

The CEO of VolunteeringACT, Vicky Darling, said the money would go a long way to ensuring young people are well looked after following a tumultuous year.

The organisation received more than $40,000 to help unemployed and underemployed young people to better understand mental health and provide pathways to volunteering.

“This [program] will improve mental health outcomes for young people by improving their mental health literacy and enabling them to participate in volunteering,” said Ms Darling.

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“Both of these aspects are proven to promote sustained mental wellbeing, ensuring our young people are resilient and supported to gain meaningful employment.

“Wrapped around these two components will be ongoing support for young people through coaching and mentoring from the local business community to improve job readiness and confidence.”

The Ted Noffs Foundation also received $38,000 to support its Street Uni Live initiative, an online space where young people can take daily workshops on beat making, lyric writing, dance and art.

Young people can also use the service to access counsellors and support.

“The funding will enable us to further develop the technical side of the software so we can create more workshops and enhance counselling supports,” said Ted Noffs Foundation acting CEO Mark Ferry.

Palliative Care ACT received $75,000 to provide respite for family carers supporting terminally ill loved ones, and to support the mental health and wellbeing of carers whose workload has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACT Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury.

ACT Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury said the grants aim to build resilience, and protect and promote wellbeing. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

ACT Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury said the grants are aimed at supporting Canberra’s most vulnerable communities during the pandemic, including young people, the elderly, women and LGBTQI+ people.

“Even with low confirmed COVID-19 case numbers in the ACT to date, COVID-19 has hit our community particularly hard,” he said.

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“It has created significant challenges for how we look after our mental health and wellbeing – how we can interact with our friends, our family and other people we love and care about.

“When we prioritise mental health in all areas of our lives and the life of our community, we open ourselves to helping each other in really meaningful ways, irrespective of background or circumstance.”

The funding announcements come in light of a parliamentary committee report and the ACT Government’s suicide prevention plan, which both called for more community based mental health services to better support Canberrans.

Twenty grants were awarded under two streams: $305,181 for organisations, and $100,800 for community grants.

More information can be accessed at the ACT Government’s health website.

The full list of grant recipients can be found here.

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