POWERING UP FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Headspace Mildura’s Robert Sloper, Hannah Cairns and Bridgette Stevenson are pictured with Powercor Mildura’s Aaron Hughes, and a roll of the conductor wire that helped net the organisation $17,500.

LATERAL thinking surrounding the recent decommissioning of a Mallee powerline has gone a long way in ensuring innovative mental health initiatives for young people get off the ground.

When Powercor’s Mildura, Ouyen and Horsham staff were called in recently to remove a large section of industrial line near Ouyen, they opted to combine forces and volunteer their time for community good, rather than produce waste.

The result was donations to several community organisations across the region, including $17,500 to headspace Mildura.

Headspace is open to young people between 12 and 25 who are going through a tough time, and can assist with a range of free or low cost services, including advice, information and early intervention services for mental and physical health concerns, use of alcohol and other substances, risk of homelessness and vocational and educational support.

Powercor Mildura field leader, Aaron Hughes, said the idea to use the decommissioning of a powerline as a charity project came from a local staff member.

“The line was constructed in 2011 to power Iluka’s Kulwin mine, and had only a five-year lifespan, which was the expected life of the mine,” Mr Hughes said. “There was about 40 kilometres of conductor wire to take down, and because it was premium quality aluminium, our construction project leader, Robert Sloper, identified the potential to sell it off for recycling.”

About 15 depot staff from Mildura, Ouyen and Horsham volunteered their time toward the initiative, with local businesses and community members also getting on board to help take down the line and wind it up by hand.

The aluminium conductor was sold to a metal merchant, and is expected to be re-smelted into items ranging from fridges and microwaves to medical equipment.

The sale raised 76,000 in total, $35,000 of which was contributed to the Ouyen recreational lake project for a kiosk and picnic area, with $17,500 donated to headspace Mildura and the remainder for projects in the Horsham area.

Mildura headspace clinician Hannah Cairns said the donation was a great community gesture.

“The money will go towards helping us raise awareness and reach more young people through some innovative community engagement projects, including a regional cricket round over the summer,” she said.

“We’re also excited that we’ll be able to get another important program off the ground that’s been in the planning stages for a while, which is a youth-led community awareness initiative about connecting with friends and family.”

Some of the money will also go to supporting headspace Mildura’s magazine ‘Bold’, which involves youth in producing a high-quality magazine featuring ideas, stories, issues and art of local young people.