Breakthrough program thanks to a generous grant

05 Mar 2024

Nobody should have to deal with mental health problems on their own. Some of the worst affected young people in our community are First Nations youth. That’s why The William Buckland Foundation chose to support the establishment of a breakthrough program to tackle First Nations youth mental health crisis. 

In 2022, over 130 First Nations youth visited the St Vincent’s Emergency Department (ED) because they were suffering a mental health crisis.

The First Nations Mental Health Wellbeing Pilot Program at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, which is the first of its kind in Australia, will create a position for a First Nations Mental Health Nurse to address this crisis by assisting youth presenting at ED. This will have a great impact in our community.

Project Lead and Manager of the Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Service, Nicole Watt said, “This pilot program was designed in collaboration with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service who were pivotal in the consultation and support of this role.

“We are so thankful to be given the opportunity to complete our vision to improve the lives of First Nations youth. It wouldn’t have been possible without the incredibly generous support we’ve received from The William Buckland Foundation.”

PHOTO: Thanks to a generous grant from The William Buckland Foundation, Project Lead, Nicole Watt, and her team will be helping to address the mental health needs of First Nations Youth. From L to R: Lily Mercer (Wilam Ngarrang Registered Psychiatric Nurse), Nicole Watt (Manager AHL Service), John Egan (Victorian Aboriginal Health Service - Social and Emotional Wellbeing Team Leader) and Jo Clayton (Director of Nursing AIS).

The pilot project will operate for two years. The First Nations Mental Health Nurse will support First Nations youth in mental health crisis. They will empower the patient to identify their care goals, bridge gaps to involve their family and community and make referrals to counselling and other services such as housing and job placement, if needed.

Former St Vincent’s Foundation CEO, Sue Parkes said, “We are so grateful to The William Buckland Foundation for their visionary support. Thanks to this very generous grant, St Vincent’s will be able to pave the way towards a viable solution to improving the lives and futures of First Nations youth in our community.” 




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