Panel ‘must decide’ headspace location

ANY decision on the location of the outer east youth mental health service headspace must now be left to an independent panel, Knox mayor Adam Gill believes.
Nanjing Night Net

His comments come after calls from Aston MP Alan Tudge that Knox Council should at least match what Maroondah Council was offering for the headspace site.

The federal government-funded youth initiative announced plans last year to operate a site in Melbourne’s outer east and Knox and Maroondah councils are vying to have the centre in their area.

A consortium of community health services groups is expected to recommend a site by the end of the month.

Last December, Mr Tudge said he wrote a formal letter to Knox Council suggesting that what Maroondah Council had proposed would have a major impact on the consortium’s decision.

Kristin Michaels, the chief executive of the consortium’s lead agency Eastern Ranges GP Association, said Maroondah had offered a building for headspace’s use.

She said Knox Council had put a “slightly different offer” on the table to do with youth services.

Mr Tudge said Maroondah’s offer was an “attractive business case”, and Ms Michaels acknowledged that “every dollar counts” when looking for a large building in a popular area.

However, Cr Gill said the “independent panel of around 14 groups will now make an assessment of the offers”.

The outer east headspace site will need to service the young people of Knox, Maroondah and the Yarra Ranges, Ms Michaels said: “We have to find the best spot for headspace for the maximum number of young people, which will provide the best possible future for the site.”

She said if the primary site was in Knox, outreach options would need to be considered for young people in the Yarra Valley.

Ms Michaels said once the consortium put a decision forward, it was up to headspace whether the decision would be accepted. “They may have a differing opinion, but it’s probably unlikely. They usually acknowledge that the consortium is best placed to make a decision for the local community.”