“It’s not just part of being young, but it’s particularly something that can affect young minds and young lives and so the work of batyr is part of a much broader plan,” Mr Hunt said.
“It’s part of a youth mental health and suicide prevention plan which is aimed at saying to each of these magnificent young women, ‘your lives matter and you can seek help’.”
Opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen said any funding for the sector was welcome, but long-term reforms were needed to improve the lives of Australians with mental health issues.
“We need to start by better understanding the diverse needs of people with mental ill health, and by identifying and addressing gaps in our mental health system,” he said.
“The government mustn’t use the Productivity Commission inquiry to delay reform – Labor stands ready to work with them on these priorities now.”
Mr Morrison said the government was focused on outreach and ensuring people were connected with the right mental health services.
“The real challenge is connecting people to those services and assisting them to understand when they need that help and that’s where a lot of our focus will be and we’ll continue to put the investment in,” he said.
Nic Brown, general manager of batyr, said only about 20-30 per cent of young people were accessing support services like Kids Helpline or ReachOut, so batyr’s aim was to connect young people with those services and also educate students through stories shared by other young people.
“The issue that we’re trying to address is stigma, and we know the best way to have an impact on stigma and change attitudes towards help-seeking is to share lived experience,” he said.
At Burwood Girls High, Livvi was one of two young women who shared her own mental health story. She told the room she was sharing her own journey with depression, anxiety and eating disorders in the hope other young people will feel less isolated and alone.
“Two years ago I told a room packed with my college friends about my journey, and while it was terrifying to feel so vulnerable, I was blown away by the fact that other people then felt comfortable enough to share things they’d been struggling with themselves.”
The founder and chairman of batyr, Sebastian Robertson, said sharing these stories helps encourage “positive help-seeking behaviours”.
Mr Brown said the funding would allow the organisation to share the stories on an online platform and allow batyr to reach even more young people in Australia.
“Being able to take what we offer around storytelling and sharing stories – and on a digital scale – means people anywhere, anytime can access those stories and hear from people just like them,” he said.
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Rachel Clun is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.