Museums Victoria and Orygen join forces to address climate distress among young people

A new series of Climate Cafes will create a safe space for collective conversation

Young people will come together for a series of Climate Cafes facilitated by Museums Victoria and Orygen. Photo by Eugene Hyland. Source: Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria is proud to partner with Orygen, Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, to deliver a series of Climate Cafes at Melbourne Museum beginning in June 2024.

The Cafes offer safe spaces for young people impacted by climate-related concerns to come together with science and mental health experts for open conversations about the climate crisis in our shared world.

The impact of climate change is one of the megatrends driving the youth mental health crisis, with Orygen’s 2023 report ‘Climate of distress: Responding to the youth mental health impacts of climate change’ finding that two-thirds of Australians aged 16–25 years reported that climate distress has impacted their functioning, their hope for the future and their mental health.

The report also found that young people experiencing climate distress identified the ‘most helpful’ responses from health professionals to be acknowledging their concerns about climate change are valid, providing avenues for discussing their concerns, and identifying strategies for self-care and opportunities for positive action.

Responding to this report, and building on a successful pilot program delivered by Museums Victoria, Orygen and headspace Elsternwick in November 2023, the upcoming series of Climate Cafes will create an informed, supportive and psychologically safe environment for young people to:

  • share their thoughts and feelings over a hot drink and something to eat
  • find people they can turn to for support
  • discover research-backed tools they can use to help them cope with climate-related distress from mental health experts at Orygen and headspace Elsternwick
  • engage with Museums Victoria Research Institute experts to learn about research-backed, scientific solutions to climate change
  • meet other like-minded peers.

The Climate Cafe model has been developed and tested in organisations worldwide to offer safe spaces for people to talk about climate change.

Facilitated by mental health professionals from Orygen and headspace Elsternwick alongside experts in science and environment from Museums Victoria Research Institute, these sessions will involve interactive and visual learning experiences alongside group discussions about climate change and climate distress, delivered in small groups of 20 participants aged 16–26.

Lynley Crosswell, CEO and Director of Museums Victoria, said the partnership with Orygen is focused on the next generation of changemakers.

‘Combining Museums Victoria’s research-backed expertise in science and biodiversity with Orygen’s research-backed expertise in mental health, the Climate Cafes are a proactive initiative to empower our young people to hold a vision for a brighter future.’

Executive Director of Orygen, Professor Patrick McGorry, said the partnership was an exciting opportunity to bring science and mental health professionals together to support young people.

‘We know that climate change is one of the megatrends driving the youth mental health crisis. Young people have real concerns about the state of the climate and escalating extreme weather events,’ he said.

‘This initiative gives young people the opportunity to come together with like-minded peers and share their experiences and concerns, learning from each other as well as from scientists and mental health experts.’

Climate Cafe Series

Location: Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street Carlton 
Thursday 6 June, Thursday 25 July and Thursday 15 August | 4:30pm – 6:30pm
Booking is free, but places are limited. You will be contacted to confirm your attendance.
For further information and to register visit the Melbourne Museum website.

Presented in partnership with Orygen Youth Mental Health and headspace Early Psychosis South East Melbourne (an Alfred Health-run service).

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Media and Communications Team
Museums Victoria
[email protected]
0466 622 621

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