DEMAND for services from headspace centres in the country’s 20 youth unemployment hotspots is about three times higher than the national average.
Bendigo ranks 18th among the list of hotspots identified by headspace, above Shepparton and a district in north west Perth.
Outback Queensland topped the list, followed by Shoalhaven and the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, and south east Tasmania.
headspace chief executive officer Jason Trethowan said there was a two-way link between youth unemployment and mental health.
“Unemployment in young people can lead to poor mental health, and young people with poor mental health are more vulnerable to not engage in work,” he said.
“The average number of disengaged young people who are accessing headspace services in the identified hotspots is 27 per cent, which is a staggering three times higher than the national NEET average of 8.8 per cent for 15 – 24 year olds.”
headspace listed structure and routine, a sense of purpose and responsibility and self-confidence among the benefits of employment.
Data analysis by Brotherhood of St Laurence late last month showed the region encompassing Bendigo, Castlemaine, Heathcote, Kyneton and Woodend had one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the state and the country.
The youth unemployment rate in the region encompassing Bendigo has swelled from 11.4 per cent to 16.2 per cent in the past two years.
It compares unfavourably to both Victoria’s youth unemployment rate, of 13.1 per cent, and the national rate of 12.2 per cent.
Another critical issue faced by young people is underemployment – an issue headspace said typically affected young people in regional and remote areas more than their metropolitan counterparts.
“Young people who work just one hour a week are represented as being employed, yet many are desperately seeking more work which can greatly impact their mental health and wellbeing,” a statement from headspace said.
Mr Trethowan said more needed to be done to support growing numbers of vulnerable young people experiencing mental health difficulties.
“The shocking rates of youth unemployment reinforce the continued need to ensure young people can access support for their work and study needs, combined with mental health and wellbeing care,” he said.
If you, or someone you know is aged 12-25 and going through a tough time you can find your nearest headspace centre at headspace.org.au or talk to someone online at eheadspace.org.au.