MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (13:21): Teachers know that some of their students will experience mental health issues during their school career, and many of those young people will need expert assistance to help them to be well enough to focus on learning. Early mental health intervention is crucial, and students and their families do need help to access and coordinate services beyond school as well as on-the-spot counselling. Rural and regional families have found these challenges especially difficult, so I am very pleased to see the progress being made in rolling out the mental health support for schools across the state.
In western Victoria by the end of last year 33 secondary schools and campuses had recruited qualified practitioners to work with and support students. These include psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers and occupational therapists. This year another 30 schools in western Victoria and especially in the south-west will recruit practitioners, and all specialist schools with a secondary component are part of the program. It is also great to note that several western Victoria primary schools are part of a pilot program where a trained teacher will coordinate mental health and wellbeing initiatives. These are fantastic programs, and they are complemented by anti-bullying and schoolwide positive behaviour initiatives, plus allied health support.
This government is committed to improving the mental health system in this state, made very evident by the comments of the Premier this morning. We want to give all of our children and young people the very best opportunities to start a great life in this state.