As you are aware, NAAH has become aware of proposed service cuts to Youth Health Services within the SSWAHS region.
As workers dedicated to 'Working together to enhance the loves of young people in our City', BWWYN has a responsibility to take action on these cuts as we believe youth health services should be expanded to cover more young people in more places... not cut back.
Below is a draft letter that BWWYN will send to Ministers and other key stakeholders in opposition to these proposed cuts. If anyone has any further input or supporting documents, please post a comment below and this will be taken into consideration.
It was also suggested at the last December 3rd BWWYN meeting that each service working with or for young people should write a personal letter indicating the negative implications that proposed service cuts to youth will have in addressing youth needs. It would be greatly appreciated if each individual services could write a personal letter which will be compiled and sent along with the main BWWYN letter.
Please post your own views and comments by scrolling down and clicking the comments link below.
Bankstown Workers With Youth Network - Draft letter
RE: Cuts to health services for homeless and at risk young people
Bankstown Workers With Youth Network (BWWYN) would like to express concerns over proposals to cut vital and necessary health services for at risk and homeless young people.
BWWYN is an interrelated network of professionals working towards common goals for youth and youth services in Bankstown. BWWYN is representative of and responsive to the community's cultural diversity and needs specific to the youth in Bankstown LGA. BWWYN advocates and lobbys for priority issues and are acknowledged as a respected and recognised voice for youth. Consequently, the organisations representing BWWYN are passionate in advocating against proposals to cut youth health services.
BWWYN has become aware of proposed cuts to direct service provision to the 2,500 young people who reside in the Sydney South West Area Health Service (SSWAHS) region and are marginalised, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. SSWAHS is proposing that the five Youth Health Services under their control shift focus to solely Out of Home Care Clients (OOHC) aged 12 to 18 years and abolish all existing services which currently target young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years of age who are marginalised, homeless or at risk of being homeless.
Services provided by the Youth Health Services in SSWAHS currently make up one third of the state’s health services for marginalised and homeless young people. There are five SSWAHS youth health services that will be affected:
Youthblock Health & Resource Service (formerly Cellblock Youth Health Service) (Camperdown);
Canterbury Multicultural Youth Health Service;
The Corner Youth Health Service (Bankstown);
Fairfield Liverpool Youth Health Team (FLYHT); and
Traxside Youth Health Service (Campbelltown).
BWWYN is particularly concerned over the proposed cuts to Youth Health because one of the proposed services directly affected will include The Corner Youth Health Service which is a key service provider in the Bankstown local government area. The Corner Youth Health Service works frequently in collaboration with other organisations concerned with youth issues and provide much needed health promotion and education services for young people, families and carers, education professionals and other community based service providers on a range of health issues relevant to the well-being of young people. BWWYN sincerely request your assistance to ensure the continued delivery and staffing of necessary and specialised health services for at risk and homeless young people.
As you can appreciate, if current youth health services for at risk and homeless young people are removed, the health status of this population group will substantially decrease as at risk and homeless youth are known to be reluctant to seek treatment through mainstream services as they regard them as judgmental and unsympathetic to their needs and life situations. All recent research in youth health, as well as homelessness, points to the need for youth health services to be holistic and flexible in their approach. Most major reports have discussed the importance of provision of service to young people who are over 18 years, and the necessity of preventative outreach in this group. Youth Health Services are wonderful examples of this research in action, and these proposed staffing and service cuts are contrary to the best practice youth health work both in Australia and internationally. It is also out of step with the New South Wales State Plan, the current NSW Youth Action Plan and the youth health policy direction of NSW Health.
The SSWAHS proposal is also against the direction of NSW Premier Nathan Ree’s initiatives. For example, the Premier has recently instigated the Nepean Youth Homelessness Project. This project draws together a range of local agencies that target young people at risk. This is a similar service design to NSW youth health services, which provide counseling and case management, nursing and medical services, referral and advocacy, visual and music arts programs as well as education, living skills and health promotion. Please see attached position paper for more information.
Whilst it is important to provide health services for OOHC clients, this should not be at the expense of other marginalised, homeless and at risk young people. Many of these young people may be eligible for OOHC services but have not been identified, have slipped through the system or have been discharged from OOHC, either by the Department of Community Services or through self discharge. Youth Health Services also work with young people who are living with their families, which may be unstable, and prevent these young people from entering the OOHC system as well as young people over 18 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Ending the cycle of homelessness at an early stage, when a person is still young, is cost effective as it saves the Government long term expenditure.
The SSWAHS proposal is short-sighted and not based on evidence or best practice. It is against both state and national policy directions as well as current evidence based literature, particularly in the areas of homelessness, mental health, drug and alcohol, prevention and early intervention. Youth health services in other area health services have not followed the same route as SSWAHS to provide services to OOHC clients only, but have prioritised OOHC clients through their service systems. This would be a better model for SSWAHS youth health services and would be more cost effective.
OOHC clients and other marginalised, at risk and homeless young people can all be provided with services within SSWAHS youth health if SSWAHS Senior Executives support youth health services, rather than cut direct service delivery and staffing levels.
Peak bodies and organisations interested in the health and well being of young people in NSW have attempted to raise concerns with management at SSWAHS and have questioned the reasoning behind these proposals. It is our understanding that SSWAHS intends on making decisions in relation to these proposals in the coming weeks, so it is with some urgency that we raise these issues with you.
I have included more detailed information in the enclosed Position Paper. BWWYN urges you to call a stop to all cuts to direct service provision to young people who are marginalised, homeless or at risk of homelessness in the SSWAHS region and wider NSW.
Convenor of BWWYN
Bankstown Workers With Youth Network