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$14.8 million in youth health initiatives unveiled



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Dr Carmen Lawrence M inister for Human Services and Health M inister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

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29 January 1996

$14.8 MILLION CN YOUTH HEALTH INITIATIVES UNVEILED

Young Australians access to quality, affordable and accessible health care has been further advanced through a $14.8 million package of new initiatives to provide young people with greater access to information about their health and to set in place new strategies to reduce the misuse of drugs.

"This package of new initiatives unveiled in the Prime Minister's Youth Strategy today, supplements the Government's most important health initiative for young Australians - and that is Medicare," the Minister for Human Services and Health, Carmen Lawrence, said today.

"Medicare guarantees all Australians, but particularly young Australians, access to , health care no matter where they live or what their economic circumstances." Dr >, Lawrence said.

. "However, these initiatives will make our health system even more responsive to young people's needs."

'·. Dr Lawrence said the Federal Government was providing $6 million over "four ■ year? to kick off the National Health Plan for Young Australians agreed to by State and Territory governments last year.

1 "The Federal Government's funding will go towards developing strategies that address the'health information needs of rural, mainstream and disadvantaged young Australians," said "the Minister.

This will include:

A two-year trial of mobile information vans in rural areas, and making health information readily available for homeless and marginalised youth through a national version of HIP kits. HIP (Health Information Project), kits include comics about violence, drug and alcohol use, sex education and personal

relations.

Sponsoring regular production of health information for high school students in Streetwise comics.

Establishing a youth health page on the World Wide Web.

Developing consistent quality data about the health of young Australians to inform future youth health services planning.

"The health of young Australians will improve now and in the longer term through enhanced personal access to reliable and user-friendly information," Dr Lawrence said.

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The Federal Government is also allocating $6.7 million over three years to an awareness campaign and a community grants program to fight misuse of licit and illicit drugs by young people.

"A national media awareness program will be developed targeting 15 to 24-year- olds non-users and recreational users," Dr Lawrence said.

"While the community grants program will target illicit drug use among at risk groups of young people in drug "hot spots" such as Footscray and Cabramatta.

'These grants will be awarded to local community agencies and other grass roots initiatives that provide individualised and community-specific programs that have the support of law enforcement, youth and drug agencies.

"The media campaign and grants program will deliver the unambiguous message that illicit drugs are dangerous. It will also seek to counter the "cool" image that drugs have with some youth," D r Lawrence said.

"Instead, the Federal Government will be actively supporting young people’s healthy lifestyles.

"And over $2 million has been allocated to the National Drug Offensive to sponsor the Street Slamming 3 on 3 National Basketball competition and the Rock Eisteddfod competition for a TV advertisement designed by young people promoting the theme "High on Life".

Media Contact: Brenda Conroy 0412 414781