Coalition throws $16.5 million to sandbag Higgins


Health Minister Greg Hunt will join Ms O’Dwyer and the Liberal candidate for Higgins, Dr Katie Allen, to announce the funding package, which includes $3.5 million for a Headspace centre in Glen Iris, and $13 million for a residential centre to treat eating disorders.

There are more than 100 Headspace centres across the country, providing support to young people with mental and physical health issues and alcohol and drug addiction.

“The new Headspace centre will provide vital services and deliver innovative support for young Australians in Higgins,” Mr Hunt said in a statement

Dr Allen said she was “committed to ensuring young Australians can get information, advice, counselling or treatment, where and when they need it”.

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Both the major parties have announced funding for a slew of Headspace centres across the country, including a bipartisan pledge for one in nearby Monash.

Headspace chief executive Jason Trethowan said the centres were critical to supporting young people as they transitioned through adolescence and battled their issues.

“If they’re feeling a little bit lost at uni, or work, they can have a chat to Headspace in their local community, close to home and in a stigma-free environment,” Mr Trethowan said.

While details of the $13 million residential centre remain unclear, the Coalition said it would be delivered through the South East Primary Health Network, which covers parts of the Higgins electorate.

Ms O’Dwyer, who has been a key campaigning asset to the Liberals, handing out how-to-vote cards at pre-poll booths and using her high profile to raise funds for Dr Allen, said there were about one million Australians who had an eating disorder.

“Eating disorders are extremely complex illnesses, and have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness – with anorexia by far the deadliest mental health condition in Australia and disproportionately affecting women,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

Sumeyya is a reporter for The Age.

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