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Priority 1: Young people are healthy and well

Young people have the best possible health and can draw on their strength, optimism and support from their families and communities to recover from adversity.

Our promise, Your future understands that when young people have good mental and physical health, they have a solid foundation for the rest of their lives. Safe, tailored and inclusive access to health and mental health services enables young people to thrive and take full part in education, work and their communities1.

Under Our promise, Your future, young people will get mental health support when and where they need it. We are working towards all young people having access to safe, timely, appropriate and family-focused mental health care that meets their needs. Importantly, this must include multicultural and multifaith young people, regional and rural young people, LGBTIQ+ young people, Aboriginal young people and disabled young people.

Appropriate mental health support for young people affected by family violence, sexual abuse and other forms of crime is another priority in recognition of the trauma these crimes cause in both the short and long term.

This builds on our commitment to implement all recommendations of the historic Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. This work is making system-wide changes to address young Victorians’ mental health needs2.

Almost two out of three young Victorians place a high value on physical health3. Despite this, sports participation levels drop suddenly at age 15. More than 40 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds’ diets are made up of meals not consistent with a healthy lifestyle4. This strategy bridges this gap. We will help young people get engaged in sport, understand how to stay healthy and know what to do when they have a health issue.

Young people will feel confident that they can find providers and community groups that understand them and can meet their needs. They are looking for services and relationships that recognise their whole self and how different parts of their identity (such as culture, gender and family) can affect their health and wellbeing. Community sport, recreation, arts and events also play a big role in creating inclusive places that foster positive health and wellbeing. Importantly, whole families will be considered by services because we know that young people rely on their loved ones for their health and wellbeing.

‘Creating safe spaces, conversations about mental health, more awareness about it, especially with Pasifika men. It is considered taboo. We want our men and women to know it’s okay not to be okay.’
– Pasifika youth forum participant

Our commitment to young Victorians under priority 1 is …

1.1 Set up ways to enable young people with diverse lived experience to be involved at all stages of rolling out recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

‘I am a person of colour, a sibling to a person with a disability and a carer to a person with Alzheimer’s. Living life through the lens of otherism is how I’ve lived my life so far.’
Survey respondent, 22–25 years old

1.2 Expand access to evidence-based mental health and positive wellbeing supports for all young people across the state. This will include through primary and secondary schools and in partnership with the youth sector.

1.3 Promote positive health and wellbeing in schools by providing contemporary and inclusive relationship, sexuality and consent education, including supporting resources.

1.4 Improve the population health and wellbeing outcomes of young people. Reduce health inequalities through evidence-informed prevention and early intervention activity.

1.5 Embed self-determination by empowering Aboriginal communities to deliver health programs to Aboriginal young people. Build cultural safety into all health programs, including mental health.

‘Young mob find it difficult to link in with services when the worker is non-Indigenous and/or culturally unsafe.’
- Aboriginal youth forum participant

1.6 Creating healthier food environments in schools, early years services, sport and recreation facilities, clubs and across government agencies.

1.7 Build a community-wide approach to reducing barriers young people face in taking part in sport. This includes improving the inclusivity and accessibility of community sport and recreation.

1.8 Continue to promote sport and recreation for girls and young women. This will include statewide campaigns and setting up a strong evidence base on the connection between sport and future leadership opportunities.

1.9 Promote the benefits of physical activity for young people, encourage active transport and connect young people to camping and outdoor activities for health and wellbeing.

1.10 Continue the Get Active Kids Voucher Program to enable more children and young people from low-income households to participate in sport and recreation.

1.11 Provide access to nature and support youth-led and youth-friendly action to help mitigate and adapt to climate change and eco-anxiety through environmental volunteering tools, platforms and opportunities.

1.12 Continue the Active Schools initiative to build on existing programs and funding to boost support and resources for schools to get kids moving.

‘Nothing else matters if we can’t stop climate change.’
- Survey respondent, 12–15 years old

‘Mental health isn’t taken seriously enough in young people, especially men. It’s so stigmatised and it’s just not good enough.'
- Survey respondent, 19–21 years old

Case study: Centring on diversity and inclusion matters

Young person, 17 years old

I am 17 and a transgender male, and I first fully understood my identity at the age of 14. 

At the time I was absolutely terrified and deeply struggling from the distress of going through female puberty. After coming out, I was lucky that my parents were supportive and willing to help me through the process of gender transition. A major part of that process simply involved beginning to live my life socially as male. However, since much of my discomfort was related to physical aspects of my body, I knew I also wanted to begin the process of medical transition.

Trying to locate information on the resources available to me as a young transgender Victorian was incredibly difficult. Most searches on the internet led to hateful or misguided articles. Eventually I did manage to find out about the gender clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the only service available for young trans people in Melbourne and its outer suburbs.

It took three months after my initial referral to get an appointment with a nurse, and in total I waited 1.5 years between my initial referral and being able to start medical transition. The only help I was given in the meantime was some limited information about mental health services.Those 1.5 years were intensely difficult, and the overwhelming distress I was in affected all aspects of my life including my mental health, friendships and ability to perform at school. I felt very alone because I didn’t know anyone I could go to for information or emotional support with such a specific life experience.

It’s now been over three years since I first came out and my life is a lot easier. But I know there must be many young trans people in Victoria experiencing the exact same struggles I went through. There needs to be accessible services for all intersections of the community, including teenagers, and a more organised way for LGBTIQ+ people to find out what health care is actually available to them.

My hope for the future is that young transgender Victorians will be able to come out and explore their gender without the experience of isolation and hardship I went through.



[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011

[2] Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System 2020

[3] Tiller et al. 2020

[4] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019