Schools Wellbeing Program needs green light

Labor has been called on to announce continuity of funding for chaplains and student welfare officers in Victorian state schools in state parliament.

The Nationals MP and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Melina Bath said Labor needs to give schools and service providers certainty for ongoing contracts to 2027.

“The Education Department made a commitment to inform principals of ongoing funding by the end of Term 3, but school communities remain in the dark.

“Over 600 Victorian public schools, including 34 in Gippsland, benefit from the services of chaplains and student welfare officers.

“Our school chaplains provide a safe and non-judgemental space to unpack student concerns and support positive behaviours, building resilience in our young people.

“In addition to normal childhood and adolescent challenges, the social disruption of school lockdowns have understandably left young people increasingly worried for their futures.

“It is well documented that there are increased rates of social isolation and loneliness in children and young people which has contributed to rising mental health and wellbeing challenges – their support needs must be prioritised.”

Ms Bath said as a former teacher she can attest to value of chaplains and the quality welfare programs they provide.

“Many studies verify the program’s effectiveness in supporting the wellbeing of school students and the broader school community.”[1]

“Preventative wellbeing and early intervention in schools ensures our students receive priority care – I am calling on the Minister to make a positive announcement for schools in my Eastern Victoria electorate so the program can continue for years to come.”