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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Case study:

Live4Life

Live4Life is a locally driven youth mental health education and suicide prevention initiative delivered by Youth Live4Life Ltd, a rurally based health promotion charity. It began in 2010 in response to a reported increase in anxiety, depression, self‑harm and suicide among young people in the rural communities of the Macedon Ranges Shire.

Live4Life’s objective is to reduce youth suicide by lowering barriers and increasing awareness of how to seek help. It also aims to reduce stigma, to increase the mental health knowledge of secondary school students, teachers, parents and community members and to build community resilience to address poor mental health.

The charity has expanded since it began and now works in the communities of the Macedon Range Shire, Benalla Rural City Council, Southern Grampians Shire, Glenelg Shire, Moira Shire and Baw Baw Shire. The program is delivered through a partnership approach involving local government, schools and community organisations. Youth Live4Life CEO, Mr Bernard Galbally told the Commission:

Live4Life is a bottom‑up community‑driven approach. Each community is unique, so although the four key components of the model remain the same, the approach of Live4Life may differ across communities. Fidelity and longevity is key—this is not a one‑size‑fits‑all approach.

The four components of the Live4Life model are: support, coordination and mentoring from Youth Live4Life’s staff, school and community partnerships, mental health training and ‘The Crew’. As part of the Live4Life model, young people are recruited as peer leaders to form ‘The Crew’. They are trained and mentored to become mental health ambassadors for their schools and local communities. Local community members are also trained as mental health first aid instructors.

Ms Annie Rowland, the Live4Life Community Engagement Coordinator (North and East Victoria), said the broader community played a crucial role in the model.

Live4Life is about building the capacity of the community in areas where the service system is lacking or failing. When a person is in crisis, the community needs to be that frontline support.

An evaluation of Live4Life in Benalla Rural City Council and Glenelg Shire indicated that the program had helped students seek mental health support for themselves or a friend. Feedback from one Year 9 students in the program included:

I’ve been helping some of my friends. Yeah, there’d be less kids at school if we didn’t have Live4Life.

The value of peer‑led messaging about mental health was consistently confirmed through consultation with mental health workers, teachers, parents and discussions with young people. The need for reinforcement and repetition of key messages was further demonstrated through evaluation findings.

The evaluation showed that more than nine in 10 students who had been involved in Live4Life were having conversations with others about mental health since participating in the initiative.
One of the founders of Macedon Ranges Live4Life said the program aims to better resource the community to support young people.

We’re not saying we can solve suicide. But we can try to get to those young people earlier, and build another layer, a protective layer into that community.

Source: RCVMHS meeting with Live4Life, 11 March 2020; RCVMHS meeting with Macedon Ranges Shire Council, 2 March 2020; Live4Life, About Us [accessed 10 November 2020]; Evaluation of Live4Life in Benalla Rural City Council and Glenelg Shire Final Report, prepared by Natasha Ludowyk; February 2020.