Zak Kirkup and the Liberals today announced a significant investment in mental health and wellbeing services in schools across Western Australia.
The suite of initiatives includes a significant expansion of the existing School Chaplaincy Service as well as the previously announced $76 million commitment to increase the number of school psychologists in government, Catholic and Independent schools.
“The mental health and wellbeing of students has become a critical focus for many schools to manage and a consistent message from school communities is the need for additional services to address the increasing demand for support,” Liberal leader Zak Kirkup said.
“Expanding the School Chaplaincy Service to all schools that wish to access a chaplain will give more students the opportunity to receive valuable pastoral care and support offered by chaplains.”
Shadow Minister for Education Donna Faragher said that school leaders have complex and demanding roles and the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey had consistently identified the need for additional support.
“As part of our commitment to boosting mental health and wellbeing initiatives in our schools, we will prepare a Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy and expand YouthCARE’s successful Principal School Chaplaincy Service. This expansion will enable all government school principals and staff in metropolitan, regional and remote areas to access this important pastoral care service if they wish to,” Mrs Faragher said.
“We will also establish a two-year trial of a Principal Mentoring Program enabling recently retired, highly skilled school principals to act as mentors to existing government school principals to provide support and guidance when requested.”
The suite of initiatives includes:
- An additional $76 million over four years to increase the number of school psychologists to provide schools with greater access to professional and individual face-to-face student support and counselling services. It is expected to deliver around 100 FTE additional school psychologists who will be available to government schools.
- This funding commitment incorporates an additional $36 million for Catholic Education WA and the Association of Independent Schools WA to increase school psychology services to schools within their respective sectors.
- An expansion of the School Chaplaincy Service to ensure every government school is able to access State Government-funding for school chaplains to provide more students with the opportunity to receive pastoral care support.
- An overarching review of the mental health and wellbeing services that are currently offered to schools with the aim of identifying opportunities for further improvement.
- The development of a WA Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy to recognise, promote and address the mental and physical health and wellbeing outcomes for school leaders.
- An expansion of YouthCARE’s Principal School Chaplaincy Service to provide all government school principals and staff in metropolitan, regional and remote areas access to pastoral care services where requested.
- The establishment of a two-year trial of a Principal Mentoring Program enabling recently retired, highly skilled school principals to act as mentors to existing school leaders to provide support and guidance.