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#Opinion Failure to learn from previous disasters leaves WA under...

Victorian Nationals

Emma Kealy – LETTER TO THE EDITOR (Nationals win five-year battle for counsellors in…

Monday 19 February 2024


Dear Editor,


The Victorian Nationals have won a five-year long battle to allow counsellors to provide much needed mental health support to students as part of Victoria’s Mental Health Practitioners in Schools program.


For too many students, the lingering impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and associated school closures has taken its toll on the mental health of our children.


While demand for mental health support has increased significantly, Labor’s failure to build Victoria’s mental health workforce means that all too often, when Victorians need mental health support, it simply isn’t available.


This critical shortage of mental health practitioners was highlighted in Labor’s limited scoping of mental health support provided in government schools, with counsellors inexplicably ruled out as being approved as ‘acceptable’ mental health support workers.


Many schools across Victoria simply couldn’t secure an approved mental health worker such as a psychiatrist or psychologist to deliver this program, and it was our students that paid the price, with no mental health support being provided in many schools at all.


From day one of term one, this was changed, with counsellors now eligible to provide mental health support in our schools.


Since 2019, The Nationals have persistently raised the matter in Parliament, putting forward critical legislative changes to enable this important change – that Labor stubbornly voted against, twice.


However, there’s still much more work to be done to fix Victoria’s broken mental health system.


The longer we wait for Labor to enact the Royal Commission’s 2019 recommendations around workforce development, the longer the waiting lists will grow, the deeper the mental health harms will become, and the more pressure our existing mental health workforce will face.


Premier Jacinta Allan can’t manage money, can’t manage our mental health system, and young Victorians are paying the price.

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