Inaugural Youth Health Forum

With over 50 young people from around Australia arriving in Canberra for this exciting event, CHF’s first Youth Health Forum held on 18 and 19 September, was a huge success.

The event brought together youth leaders and nominees of youth and community organisations, with the aim of identifying the issues impacting on young people and generating recommendations to improve health system responses. When submitting their Expressions of Interest, applicants were asked to respond to questions such as naming the two biggest health issues facing Australia’s youth, and what, in their opinion would improve Australia’s healthcare system for the better.

Over 120 high quality applications were received for the forum, making it a challenge to choose 50. CHF selected attendees from a range of backgrounds and with diverse interests, levels of understanding, experiences and interactions with the health system as well as physical and non-physical conditions.

The event kicked off with a welcome dinner on the 18th, at which participants had the opportunity to meet and network. Speakers included Paige Burton (2017 Youth Representative to the United Nations), Alex Farrell (2018 AMSA President), and Harry Iles-Mann (Consumer Representative).

On 19th September, Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan launched the Youth Health Forum at Old Parliament House with a Welcome to Country. Facilitated by Charlie Mere from ThinkPlace, participants were encouraged to share their experiences and those of the communities to which they belong.

The eight discussion areas that were tackled were: Mental health, Overall health and well-being of young people, Funding, Understanding and navigating the system, Youth specific services, Equal access to services, Community-led support services and Technology to drive efficiencies.

For each of the themes, groups of participants developed a vision statement for the future. This culminated in a number of ‘Big Ideas’ the top four (in no particular order) of which were:

1. Curriculum changes and national minimum standards in education

2. Genuine lived experience participation in mental health

3. Smooth, patient-centred transitions from childhood to adult services

4. Compulsory mental health services for emergency services

Working with experts, four groups of participants further developed these ideas, focusing on short to medium term goals and generated a timeline for the next 12 months. Individuals also identified specific skills or activities that they could contribute to making the Big Idea happen.

CHF is currently working on a Call to Action document with the refined recommendations. There will also be a nomination and voting process to select a few attendees to present these at Parliament House.

The enthusiasm and insight of the participants was an indication of how young people want to be involved in these discussions and to be consulted in decisions that impact them.

CHF gratefully acknowledges our Forum supporters: the Medibank Better Health Foundation: headspace; Orygen; the Australian Digital Health Agency, the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare; the National Mental Health Commission and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

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Consumers Health Forum