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New funding for mental health must extend to alcohol and other drug services for Victoria’s marginalised young people

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) has today warmly welcomed the Victorian Government’s $868.8 million funding for mental health support in the 20/21 State Budget.

YSAS is Victoria’s largest provider of alcohol and other drug services for young people, with 19 sites across the state.

YSAS CEO Andrew Bruun said he was particularly pleased to see a significant focus on the wellbeing of young people within the detail, with almost $48 million earmarked for early intervention.

“We applaud the Victorian Government for recognising the value of investing in early intervention and the wellbeing and future of our state’s young people,” Mr Bruun said.

“This is a remarkable and wise investment and we hope that it will extend to alcohol and drug services for young people too.”

Mr Bruun said a recent estimate showed less than 10% of Victoria’s overall investment in alcohol and other drug services is specifically for young people, despite evidence that this can prevent years of unnecessary harm.

“Currently, demand for our services is greatly outstripping our capacity, which means that sadly, a young person experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs and their families might not get the help they need when they need it,” Mr Bruun said.

“We know that across the board, use of substances has escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is closely intertwined with a rise in mental illness, family violence and worsening poverty.

“During COVID-19, we’ve seen a huge demand for our services, particularly coming from Melbourne’s growth corridors where the population of young people is undergoing massive growth. This virus has cause disrupted the lives of so many Victorians and young people are really doing it tough right now. 

“There is potential for this funding to make a very significant difference to Victoria’s most marginalised and vulnerable young people who need treatment now. We have a golden opportunity to prevent years of unnecessary harm by intervening before problems become entrenched.”

About YSAS

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug service, YSAS now employs over 350 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While the prime focus of YSAS remains on effective Youth AOD Treatment and sector leadership, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and improve meaningful community participation.

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