parliamentary inquiry points to headspace Work and Study as model approach to vocational support

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation welcomes a parliamentary inquiry report that singled out the headspace Work and Study as a model example of how vocational supports can be embedded into health services.

Recommendation 9 from the Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services Report reads: “The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop, trial, and implement measures to embed pre-employment and vocational supports within a person’s primary human service, such as mental health, homelessness, or family violence services. This should be informed by the approach being taken in headspace.”

The Department of Social Services currently funds headspace to provide Work and Study support to young people in 50 of its 154 centres. Headspace Work and Study uses the internationally recognised Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, whereby vocational specialists work alongside mental health professionals to support young people to engage with education and employment. The program is complemented by Work and Study Online, which provides young people remote access to vocational support via web chat, video conferencing, email and phone.

The more than 5,000 young people who utilised headspace Work and Study services last financial year overwhelmingly reported they were satisfied with the service in centres (94%) and felt better equipped to manage their mental health difficulties after seeking Work and Study help (69%).

headspace Head of Vocational Programs, Carolyn Watts, said the report is an important step towards improving Australian employment services and underscores the vital role services like headspace play in providing a single entry point to holistic care. 

“Participation in work or study is an important protective factor for young Australians’ mental health and a key driver of positive life outcomes. However, almost one in five young people aged 17 to 25 accessing headspace centres are not engaged in any form of employment, education or training. In many regional and rural areas this figure rises to one in three young people.

“There is strong evidence that an effective way to support young people who experience both mental health problems and vocational difficulties is to provide integrated mental health and vocational support. This is why we support the recommendations listed in the report,” Ms Watts said.

“We also welcome recommendations to reinvigorate entry level jobs and to end the punitive treatment of some job seekers. We also support the establishment of an Employment Service Quality Commission and improved resourcing of specialist providers, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse service partners, as well as specialised youth services.

“This report is a welcome sign for the future of Australia’s employment services system, and we look forward to continue working with government to ensure we can continue providing young people vocational supports into the future.”

Read the Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services’ Final Report. 

Find more information from the National Youth Mental Health Survey related to work and study