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FedUni receives major grant from Legal Services Board Victoria

21 October 2014

Federation University Australia (FedUni) in collaboration and Central Highlands Community Legal Centre and Ballarat Community Health have been awarded a major grant from the Victorian Legal Services Board to establish the Central Highlands Advocacy Health Alliance (AHA) to improve legal, health and wellbeing outcomes for disadvantaged young people.

In Victoria – especially in rural and regional areas – there is a high incidence of young people with mental health and drug/alcohol issues who also experience multiple legal problems. Funding from this grant will be used to develop an alliance between local health agencies and legal organisations to integrate vital legal services within healthcare programs for at-risk youth.

The proposed program is the culmination of significant planning by FedUni and project partners, led by Dr Margaret Camilleri, Faculty of Arts and Education and Dr Helen Thompson from the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI).  The collaboration of all three organisations in planning this project highlights the collective commitment for improving the outcomes for youth in this region experiencing disadvantage compounded by multiple health and legal issues.  

With funding secured, planning is now underway for establishing the co-located medical and legal service sites, which will be operational by early 2015. As part of this project, a website will also be developed to provide information including referrals for the newly established service, along with the preparation of a Tool Kit, for dissemination amongst health professionals and agencies.

Research will be undertaken alongside the project to evaluate the outcomes. This will be an important feature of the project, as commented by Dr Camilleri: “Research and evaluation will further inform the current understanding we have of AHAs, with evaluation findings extending the current body of knowledge about dual support services for at-risk young people in the Central Highlands and beyond”.

Once established, the program will provide early intervention targeting both the legal and health issues of at-risk youth at the three Ballarat Community Health sites located in Sebastopol, Wendouree and Lucas. The program will enable young people in the Central Highlands (including those in regional areas) to have access to the service.

The project has received $260,000 funding for over two years.

For further information about this project, please contact lead researcher Dr Margaret Camilleri, Email: m.camilleri@federation.edu.au; Telephone: (03) 5327 6947, or CeRDI Director Dr Helen Thomson: h.thompson@federation.edu.au; Telephone: (03) 5327 9418

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