VicHealth will partner with organisations across the state to deliver more than 100,000 new opportunities for young people to socially and safely connect in the next two years.
The Big Connect – the first investment of VicHealth’s ground-breaking Future Healthy initiative – will support the mental wellbeing of young people, by creating opportunities for them to reconnect with their friends, families and communities in ways that work for them.
A range of Victorian organisations will have the opportunity to partner with VicHealth, including those from from sports, active recreation, arts, cultural, youth, health promotion and community food sectors.
The new investment comes as a VicHealth survey revealed more than one in three young people in Victoria feel like they don’t fit in with their local community or neighbourhood.
The survey also found that among Victoria’s 18 to 25-year-olds, four in five haven’t been able to spend as much time with friends as they would like during the pandemic, while a similar number of those surveyed recognised that being socially connected is important for their mental wellbeing.
The survey also found the majority of parents were concerned about the pandemic’s impact on their child’s ability to connect with friends and said opportunities to socially connect with others in their local neighbourhood had an impact on their child enjoying good health.
VicHealth chief executive Dr Sandro Demaio said The Big Connect will fund inclusive projects that are co-designed with young people and families right across Victoria, in response to what they want and need.
“Our survey shows that young people want and need more spaces where they can feel a sense of belonging and connection with others, particularly as we emerge from coronavirus restrictions,” Dr Demaio said.
“Young people, parents and carers know that connecting meaningfully with others is important for good health, and there’s plenty of evidence to support this. Research shows that building and maintaining meaningful social connections helps children, young people and their families boost their mental wellbeing, while reducing their likelihood of developing longer term ill-health.”