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Additional Services and Goals

In addition to our Youth Shed and Rings, programs,  HISKA is planning further services to help support Youth engagements and influence positive mental development and wellbeing in rural areas.

A schools program is proposed with regional schools to talk with students about the factors that can effect their mental health. This provides a great opportunity to obtain direct feedback from the younger generations about their personal challenges and ideas about possible solutions. “It is well evidenced that the accounts and lived experiences of children and young people regarding their world and how they experience it can contribute significantly to new knowledge, therefore enhancing services that are provided to children.

A support model will include education and training for youth, parents, teachers, youth coaches and workplace managers to help them learn to recognise contributing risk factors that may lead to mental illness, destructive behaviour, self harm or suicide in young people. The program will provide appropriate actions and tools that students and the adults they interact with can use in instances where a young person is exposed to one or more of the risk factors.

A proposed work experience program called HISKA EXP will work with organisations like Headspace, Anglicare (Peaceful Warriors), Max Employment and local businesses to help motivate and integrate young people into work experience and skills training opportunities. This program may involve a specialist branch of HISKA Buddies &/or collaboration with organisations like Anglicare (Peaceful Warriors) which may assign a peer-based mentor to a young person for a short period to assist them to adjust and integrate into work environments.

HISKA is also exploring the validity of further strength-based programs that demonstrate to young people that someone believes in them, which in turn helps young people to believe in themselves. The physical health of young people has always been a key concern and over the last 20 years research has made clearer the connection between physical health, social and emotional wellbeing, environment and life experiences.

For programs to be effective, all these aspects must be addressed. A strength-based perspective offers a wide range of practical assistance in learning to value and activate strengths in young people who tend to be primarily regarded as “multi-problem” and “high-risk".

The strengths perspective demands a different way of looking at individuals, families and communities. All must be seen in the light of their capacities, talents, competencies, possibilities, visions, values and hopes, however dashed and distorted through circumstance, oppression and trauma.

~ Dr. Laura B. Nissen Portland State University

This may allow service providers and practitioners to regard each youth, his/her family and the community not only as person in need of support services, guidance and opportunity, but also in possession of previously unrealised resources which must be identified and mobilised to successfully resolve presenting problems and circumstances. The strength-based approach is energised by a sense of hope and a belief that every youth, every family and every community – no matter how distressed or compromised they are – have strengths. 

Aligning to this approach will encourage young people to recognise and trust in possibilities, self-determine solutions to their own problems, develop their own life paths and plan their careers based on personal interests, skills, talents and level of education. The goal for HISKA is to develop and grow to become a well established and recognised service provider in the Youth Mental Health and Suicide postvention support space.

Through knowledge of the provision and effectiveness of current support systems, emerging research and the identification of support deficiencies, HISKA aims to bridge the gaps; some independently and others in collaboration with existing organisations. In reaching that goal, HISKA has discovered an opportunity to identify and attempt to record and connect the hundreds of smaller rural service providers operating in various towns and regions throughout Victoria.


Developing programs for Youth and Young Adults is a complex task due to these factors:

I. The plethora and variance of Youth mental health research, information, opinions and recommendations available.

II. The range and complexity of young individuals in relation to their social demographics, culture, gender alignment, formative conditioning, peer group pressures, life experiences and how each young person responds mentally, emotionally and behaviourally to different circumstances.

III. The individual nature of populations living in different rural towns and regions. Knowing the characteristics and needs of communities, families and individuals in different areas requires much research and investigation. A service model that works well in Wonthaggi may not be as effective in Mildura and require adjustment for specific local factors.

IV. Existing service provisions. There is no point in HISKA reinventing the wheel.

There are thousands of existing organisations and government services operating in the Youth Mental Health and Suicide space. It is important however to use evidence based approaches, live feedback and personal experience to identify and bridge existing gaps or niches. HISKA aims to operate in this space and  fill gaps through the development and provision of new services or  provide complimentary services in collaboration with existing youth and community service providers.