Mental Health in Schools: Adjournment Matter

  • Click here to read this adjournment matter – and the Minister’s response – on the Parliament of Victoria website.

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education and the action that I seek is for the minister to provide me with an update on the Mental health in schools program and how it is supporting Ballarat students in my electorate of Wendouree.

As a former teacher, I know firsthand that many students experience mental health issues and challenges. Therefore, it is so important that children and young people receive quality mental health care when they need it most.

That is why I am proud to be a member of the Andrews Labor government and that we have committed to rolling out mental health professionals in every government secondary school to give students the support they need.

Support for the mental health of our students is absolutely paramount, particularly after the year that we have just experienced. 2020 was a very challenging year for our teachers, students and families as a result of the global pandemic and the remote learning. Many young people felt disconnected and found the disruption to their schooling, sport and social lives very difficult to manage. The ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 continues to impact our young people and support for their wellbeing is vital.

I welcomed the rollout of the Mental Health in Schools program in my electorate of Wendouree last year, including dedicated mental health practitioners now appointed for students at Mount Rowan Secondary College, Ballarat High School and Yuille Park P-8 Community College.

I wish to thank the minister for his commitment to supporting Victorian students and ensuring that all students get the support and help they need in and out of the classroom.

I look forward to receiving the update from the Minister for Education on the mental health supports that are in place for students in my electorate of Wendouree and sharing this information with my community.

Response from the Hon James Merlino MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education & Minister for Mental Health (12th March 2021) –

I am informed as follows:

In 2018, the Andrews Labor Government announced the Mental Health Practitioners initiative to expand support to Victorian students. This $51.2 million investment over four years is supporting secondary schools across the state to employ over 190 qualified mental health professionals such as social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists and mental health nurses.

By the end of 2021, every government secondary school will receive between one and five days a week of support from a mental health professional, depending on their enrolment numbers. This means every government secondary school student will be able to access mental health support at school, with the initiative to provide at least 385,000 hours of additional support in schools over four years.

All government secondary schools in the Central Highlands Area received funding from Term3, 2020 to employ an ongoing mental health practitioner. I am advised that 12 of the 13 secondary schools in Central Highlands (see list below) have recruited a mental health practitioner. The remaining school, Phoenix P-12 Community College, is currently recruiting.

School Name Local Government Area
 

Ararat Secondary College

Lake Bolac College

Ballarat High School

Mount Clear College

Mount Rowan Secondary College

Phoenix P-12 Community College

Woodmans Hill Secondary College

Yuille Park P-8 Community College

Yuille Park P-8 Community College

Bannockburn P-12 College

Daylesford Secondary College

Bacchus Marsh College

Beaufort Secondary College

 

Ararat (RC)

Ararat (RC)

Ballarat (C)

Ballarat (C)

Ballarat (C)

Ballarat (C)

Ballarat (C)

Ballarat (C)

Ballarat (C)

Golden Plains (S)

Hepburn (S)

Moorabool (S)

Pyrenees (S)

Ballarat Specialist School received funding from Term 1, 2021 to support engagement of a mental health practitioner. They are currently recruiting to this role.

The Government has also partnered with headspace to deliver counselling for Victorian government secondary school students. Counselling is delivered through headspace centres located across Victoria and via a dedicated regional telehealth counselling service for students in regional and rural areas.

The Department of Education and Training supports student wellbeing across primary and secondary school through a range of initiatives including Respectful Relationships, School Wide Positive Behaviour Support and Bully Stoppers.

 

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