Geelong’s appeal to help young people find their voice

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Geelong’s appeal to help young people find their voice

Did you know, 75% of mental health issues begin before the age of 25, and mental health disorders affect one in four young people?

Well, we all should.

It’s for this reason that for the past five years, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, through its education program gpac:ed, has been working with headspace Geelong to help young people find their voice.

By empowering young people to express themselves and feel comfortable in their world, we as a community play a vital role in building resilience and improve the health of our young people. This means demand on headspace Geelong services is reduced.

The partnership has connected with 1500 students across five programs, most of which aren’t run anywhere else in Australia, such as Skilling Student Leaders, Short Black Opera for Kids, Youth Voices and Wellbeing Seminars for teachers and parents.

“Our aim is to provide many of these programs for free to maximise their reach. We do this because we believe in the power of the performing arts to build their voices and connect students with each other, their families and their communities,” GPAC General Manager Jill Smith says.

The partners are hoping to reach more young people in 2018 and have launched a fundraising appeal to raise $10,000 in support of their work.

“At the heart of these programs is the opportunity for young people to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment. Students also get to use their imaginations and creativity to solve social problems. They contribute and feel valued. It’s pretty powerful stuff,” she explains.

Headspace Geelong Manager Malcolm Scott said the collaboration provided young people with an opportunity to explore their resilience and connection to community within an arts setting while gaining an understanding of some key mental health messages. This in turn means demand on already overstretched services can be reduced.

Research shows arts engagement is directly linked to improved school attendance, communication skills and self-esteem – all critical factors in a child’s well-being and future opportunities. One new UK study has found that people with at least two hours arts activity each week had significantly better mental wellbeing than those with no or lower levels of engagement.

“So please help by making a donation to support the work gpac:ed and headspace Geelong are doing to give young people a voice. Individually it’s a small price; collectively it’s a big investment in our region’s future,” said Ms Smith.

To find out more about the campaign or to donate go to

Watch the video below to see how the programs are transforming lives