COMMUNITY APPROACH: BUSHkids staff Alison Dowdle, Susan Harrison, Allison McLean, Linda Cholawinskyj and Bec Wright with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, Mayor Peter Blundell and BUSHkids CEO Carlton Meyn at the Friends of BUSHkids launch on Friday.
COMMUNITY APPROACH: BUSHkids staff Alison Dowdle, Susan Harrison, Allison McLean, Linda Cholawinskyj and Bec Wright with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, Mayor Peter Blundell and BUSHkids CEO Carlton Meyn at the Friends of BUSHkids launch on Friday. Jayden Brown

Health service calls on friends to help kids

THEY say it takes a village to raise a child - a philosophy that has prompted BUSHkids to launch a new initiative to engage with the community.

Friends of BUSHkids was launched in Warwick on Friday with an impressive turnout including parents, Southern Downs Regional Council representatives and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

The introduction of the new initiative comes as BUSHkids prepares to celebrate its 80th birthday in 2015.

BUSHkids CEO Carlton Meyn told the crowd the service, a not-for-profit organisation that offers health services to children and families living in rural Queensland, was first introduced in Warwick in 1996.

"We have a community-based model, we want the community to be involved," Mr Meyn said.

"It goes back to the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child."

There are six BUSHkids centres scattered throughout Queensland, including the Warwick facility and another in Inglewood.

The Warwick centre has four staff, including a psychologist and a speech pathologist.

Mr Meyn paid tribute to the support the organisation had received locally and from Mr Springborg.

"Mr Springborg has been important in supporting us, even before he was Health Minister," he said.

"We work in schools and from our office providing free service to those who can't afford it. It really is so important."

Taking a break from G20 commitments to spend time in his electorate, Mr Springborg told the Daily News BUSHkids did an amazing job supporting children in need.

"They understand the needs of rural kids. They are of the bush, for the bush and by the bush," he said.

"I am very privileged to have two sites in my electorate. They really do a great job."

Mr Springborg acknowledged the efforts of the local staff, labelling their work very important.

"It takes a community to raise a child," he said.

"We are very happy to support BUSHkids, we think it's a very, very worthy investment."

In the past 12 months almost 800 children have visited the Warwick BUSHkids centre and it has provided more than 2500 individual and group sessions.

Among those who have made use of the service is a father who delivered an emotional speech at Friday's launch.

The man, who wished to be known only as Ian, said BUSHkids has supported his son who has Asperger's Syndrome.

"This is a long journey we're on, about two years on-going," Ian said.

"My boy is now eight, he was diagnosed at six. BUSHkids has really helped us with coping strategies. It's been incredible."

Ian detailed how BUSHkids visited his son's school and how he and his wife have taken part in parenting sessions with others in their situation.

"We learnt strategies to deal with issues," he said.

"BUSHkids interacted with our son's school and taught the classroom to address difficulties he may be facing."

For Ian and his family the results are starting to show.

"My boy is learning how to cope," he said.

"It's helped us as a mum and dad."

Friends of BUSHkids will help with the organisation's 80th anniversary celebrations, including the first Rural Health Forum - a three-day event including lectures and discussions focused on the health issues of importance for rural communities.

BUSHkids statistics

  •  795 children seen in Warwick
  •  2626 individual or group sessions in Warwick
  •  381 sessions in Inglewood
  •  178 children actively involved
  •  151 children on waiting list


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