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  • Australia hopes to soon welcome "generation fit"

    Author: AAP

Australia's next generation will have the knowledge to recognise mental health issues and seek help, say the creators of a new national program.

A new mental health initiative has Aussie youngsters in its sights, hoping to arm them with the know-how to recognise when there's a problem and how to get help.

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Former prime minister Julia Gillard on Thursday launched the Be You program, noting that about 560,000 children in Australia aged four to 17 have had a mental health issue in the past year.

"Half of all lifelong mental health issues emerge before the age of 14," she told a gathering at a northwest Melbourne primary school.

"We have the opportunity to grow Australia's most mentally healthy generation. It's a big ambition and to achieve it we are asking everybody to get involved."


Be You is to be delivered by Beyond Blue, for which Ms Gillard is chairwoman, in partnership with Headspace and Early Childhood Australia, with $98.6 million in federal funding.

Forty per cent of parents say their child's mental health issue was first recognised at school, Ms Gillard said.

The initiative will upskill teachers and provide some 200 resources to help students who may be experiencing mental health issues and work with families and services to get help.

The program will be rolled out in 6000 schools and 2000 early learning services in 2019.

About 100 schools have already signed up.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the program would help ensure the "next generation has a mentally healthy environment to grow up in".

Principal Lorraine Bell, present at Thursday's launch, said students faced increasing pressures from social media and struggling families and communities.

"It is about the pressure of getting that number of likes on Instagram, Facebook," she said.

"We cannot do it alone. Parents need to monitor. It is about being a partnership."

Teachers and educators, including those still in training, will have access to free online courses and materials on mental health and suicide prevention.

More than 70 staff from Early Childhood Australia and Headspace will also be on hand to help schools and early learning services with the program.

Parents can tap into online resources available now at

Canberra will provide $2.36 million over four years to the University of Queensland to evaluate the program.


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