Monday, 4th October 2021


Secondary students in the inner west will now have access to vital mental health support at school with the rollout of mental health practitioners to every Victorian government secondary and specialist school now complete.

Member for Footscray Katie Hall today announced two school campuses in the inner west will receive funding to recruit a mental health practitioner from the start of Term Four as part of the $51.2 million Mental Health Practitioners initiative, which has been finalised a year earlier than originally committed to in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding received will enable schools in the inner west to employ a practitioner for up to five days a week – with more than 250 suitably qualified and registered mental health practitioners already working across the state’s secondary schools.

The mental health practitioners can include psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and mental health nurses delivering the unique needs of each student cohort.

Already supporting around 188,000 students, these practitioners offer counselling and early intervention services, help students with complex needs, connect students to broader allied and community health services and deliver whole-school mental health promotion and prevention activities – including during periods of remote learning.

In August 2020, additional support for this critical program helped boost a further 51 mental health practitioners to specialist schools across the state, catering to the mental health needs of some of Victoria’s most vulnerable students. Around 4,300 secondary-aged students with disabilities currently have access to a practitioner in their school.

The Mental Health Practitioners initiative is in addition to the Government’s $28.5 million package to ensure that all Victorian government school students have continued access to professional mental health and wellbeing support during the pandemic.

The Victorian Budget 2021/22 has also invested $217.8 million in new support for schools, including $200 million for a new School Mental Health Fund ─ allowing schools to select and implement mental health and wellbeing programs that best meet the needs of their students, while also connecting with specialist services.

Quotes attributable to Member for Footscray, Katie Hall

“This investment is about ensuring that inner west students have the mental health supports in place to help them achieve their very best at school and in life.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“We’ve delivered the Mental Health Practitioners initiative a year ahead of schedule ─ giving students in secondary and specialist schools the direct support they need during and well beyond this pandemic.”

“We’ve laid out our plan to get students back into the classroom this term, but we know some kids will need more support – and this program will make it easy for them to reach out and get the mental health care they deserve.”