Page 2239 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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consultation process that defining the missing middle is quite complex and that services will need a multidisciplinary approach to ensure that children and young people can access the right support for their needs.

The process identified heightened risk factors and barriers to receiving treatment and support for children and young people with highly complex needs and/or comorbidities, including alcohol and other drug use, those affected by homelessness or complex family dynamics or conflict, those at risk of perpetrating violence, and children and young people engaged with multiple systems.

Children and young people are also more likely to face barriers to seeking mental health support if they have been impacted by trauma; live with ASD, ADHD or disabilities; or have an emerging or established personality disorder or eating disorder. There are also challenges to accessing services for children and young people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or culturally diverse, who identify as LGBTIQA+, who are part of a specific age cohort or who have limited family involvement. As described by one service provider: “Young people don’t come separately from their issues.” We need to acknowledge this and work more collaboratively as a sector to ensure that children and young people can access services and supports for mental health challenges.

We also heard that there are significant service system level challenges and limitations. These included workforce issues and difficulties responding to high levels of demand with current funding models. We also heard of barriers to shared care and difficulties with transitioning children and young people between services as their needs change, leading to disjointed service experiences. We know, from this consultation process and others, that there are challenges in navigating the sector and inaccessible referral pathways which limit young people’s service options.

With the implementation of MindMap, we are working to enhance sector navigation for children and young people and to make it easier for parents and carers to also find suitable mental health supports for their young people. We also know that there are other challenges that prevent young people from seeking support. A key finding through this process was that service providers want to connect with other services and that there is an appetite for sector collaboration to support children and young people here in the ACT.

Following this report, the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, in partnership with the Youth Coalition of the ACT and the Capital Health Network, will establish a child and youth mental health and wellbeing services network. The network will progress the development of an action plan, in response to the key findings, building on the co-design process from this project. This will provide a structured, ongoing, formal mechanism for community, government and the private sector to continue working together. By working collaboratively, this will address the complexity associated with the missing middle, including identifying and progressing key sector priorities and shared decision-making, while improving communication, connection and collaboration.

I am pleased to provide a copy of the final report for this important project that outlines in detail the challenges and issues facing children and young people,

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