Media Centre

Improvement works to kick off at Cardinia Reservoir Park

Contractors appointed to start upgrades in October Visitors to Cardinia Reservoir Park will soon enjoy upgraded facilities as part of a major Victorian Government investment in Melbourne parks. The Urban Parks Active Wellbeing Program is delivering $21 million of upgrades at 21 parks to encourage more Melburnians to spend time outdoors and enjoy the benefits of being in nature. The program will deliver new picnic tables, refurbished and upgraded picnic shelters and toilets, upgraded electric BBQs, replacement of playground equipment, improved signage, wider and more accessible pathways, trail and carpark repairs. At Cardinia Reservoir Park, improvements at the Aura Vale, Crystal Brook and Kangaroo Flats picnic areas will include upgraded picnic tables, picnic shelters, drinking fountains, BBQs, toilets and signage, along with carpark repairs at the spillway carpark. Parks Victoria has appointed Warrandale Industries to undertake works at Cardinia Reservoir Park, which are scheduled to start in October subject to on-ground conditions and any public health directions that may be in place. During the works there will be some temporary restrictions to access which will be indicated by park signage and also published on the Parks Victoria website. As well as being essential community assets, parks across Melbourne typically attract visitors from further afield, including domestic and international tourists, making them important contributors to local business and the regional economy. Quote attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “Over the last two years we’ve seen increased visitation to many of Melbourne’s parks, proving how important it is to maintain the quality of these green spaces – whether for exercise, recreation or catching up with friends and family.” “With warmer weather approaching and more people heading outdoors it’s an exciting time to see works commencing at Cardinia Reservoir Park as one of the first in this major program of park improvements.”  

Improvement works to kick off at Cardinia Reservoir Park

Contractors appointed to start upgrades in October Visitors to Cardinia Reservoir Park will soon enjoy upgraded facilities as part of a major Victorian Government investment in Melbourne parks. The Urban Parks Active Wellbeing Program is delivering $21 million of upgrades at 21 parks to encourage more Melburnians to spend time outdoors and enjoy the benefits of being in nature. The program will deliver new picnic tables, refurbished and upgraded picnic shelters and toilets, upgraded electric BBQs, replacement of playground equipment, improved signage, wider and more accessible pathways, trail and carpark repairs. At Cardinia Reservoir Park, improvements at the Aura Vale, Crystal Brook and Kangaroo Flats picnic areas will include upgraded picnic tables, picnic shelters, drinking fountains, BBQs, toilets and signage, along with carpark repairs at the spillway carpark. Parks Victoria has appointed Warrandale Industries to undertake works at Cardinia Reservoir Park, which are scheduled to start in October subject to on-ground conditions and any public health directions that may be in place. During the works there will be some temporary restrictions to access which will be indicated by park signage and also published on the Parks Victoria website. As well as being essential community assets, parks across Melbourne typically attract visitors from further afield, including domestic and international tourists, making them important contributors to local business and the regional economy. Quote attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “Over the last two years we’ve seen increased visitation to many of Melbourne’s parks, proving how important it is to maintain the quality of these green spaces – whether for exercise, recreation or catching up with friends and family.” “With warmer weather approaching and more people heading outdoors it’s an exciting time to see works commencing at Cardinia Reservoir Park as one of the first in this major program of park improvements.”  

New Settings For Safe, Successful VCE Exams

The public health team is making important changes to the management of school exposures and students who become primary close contacts – ensuring Year 12s can sit their VCE exams with confidence, while keeping the broader community safe. These changes have been made possible by the efforts of every single Victorian who has stepped up to get vaccinated – particularly final year students themselves, with more than 80 per cent of 17-18 year-olds already at least single-dosed, giving the public health team the confidence to enable students to complete their exams. VCE students who become primary close contacts will now have permission to attend their exams, while otherwise complying with the isolation orders that apply – which will be 14 days for unvaccinated students, or 7 days for those who are fully vaccinated. These students will be able to sit exams in dedicated rooms with separate entrances either by themselves or safely distanced from other students who are also primary close contacts, depending on capacity. They will be supervised by staff wearing face shields and enhanced PPE in safely ventilated rooms that are cleaned between each use. Each student who is a primary close contact will need to be tested every 48 hours in their first week after exposure, then again on day 13 – with regular testing the key to ensuring any potential virus is picked up early and contact tracing can begin to prevent further spread at exam sites or in the community. The process for students who test positive for coronavirus will not change – they cannot attend school or their VCE exams, and they will receive a Derived Examination Score for any assessments they are forced to miss, with the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process also taking their situation into account. All VCE exam rooms will keep a registration of students and a seating plan that can be accessed for easy contact tracing, helping to keep the number of students and staff forced to isolate minimal. Alongside work to ensure every VCE student can sit their exams safely, the Department of Education and Training is working with the Department of Health to minimise the disruption to learning for all other students in the event of a confirmed case at a primary or secondary school. When there is a confirmed case, the school will generally be closed for an initial 24 hours while cleaning of any affected areas takes place, and while Department of Education staff work with school leaders to identify primary close contacts – who will then be contacted by the Department of Health for the standard contact tracing process. Meanwhile, all other students will be able to return to onsite learning – generally the next day, unless there are further cases immediately associated with a school, in which case further contact tracing may be required. In addition to a trial of rapid home testing for school communities, the Department of Health is working with the Department of Education and Training on an additional, wider trial of the use of rapid antigen testing in school settings as part of the suite of COVID safe measures for schools. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Our final year students have shown incredible resilience throughout the pandemic on top of trying to finish their schooling – it’s only right that we ensure as many students as possible sit their exams and finish the year strongly.” “While these changes will allow students who are close contacts into schools for exams, we’re taking every precaution to make sure all other VCE students and our hardworking school staff are kept safe.” Download the media release

New Settings For Safe, Successful VCE Exams

The public health team is making important changes to the management of school exposures and students who become primary close contacts – ensuring Year 12s can sit their VCE exams with confidence, while keeping the broader community safe. These changes have been made possible by the efforts of every single Victorian who has stepped up to get vaccinated – particularly final year students themselves, with more than 80 per cent of 17-18 year-olds already at least single-dosed, giving the public health team the confidence to enable students to complete their exams. VCE students who become primary close contacts will now have permission to attend their exams, while otherwise complying with the isolation orders that apply – which will be 14 days for unvaccinated students, or 7 days for those who are fully vaccinated. These students will be able to sit exams in dedicated rooms with separate entrances either by themselves or safely distanced from other students who are also primary close contacts, depending on capacity. They will be supervised by staff wearing face shields and enhanced PPE in safely ventilated rooms that are cleaned between each use. Each student who is a primary close contact will need to be tested every 48 hours in their first week after exposure, then again on day 13 – with regular testing the key to ensuring any potential virus is picked up early and contact tracing can begin to prevent further spread at exam sites or in the community. The process for students who test positive for coronavirus will not change – they cannot attend school or their VCE exams, and they will receive a Derived Examination Score for any assessments they are forced to miss, with the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process also taking their situation into account. All VCE exam rooms will keep a registration of students and a seating plan that can be accessed for easy contact tracing, helping to keep the number of students and staff forced to isolate minimal. Alongside work to ensure every VCE student can sit their exams safely, the Department of Education and Training is working with the Department of Health to minimise the disruption to learning for all other students in the event of a confirmed case at a primary or secondary school. When there is a confirmed case, the school will generally be closed for an initial 24 hours while cleaning of any affected areas takes place, and while Department of Education staff work with school leaders to identify primary close contacts – who will then be contacted by the Department of Health for the standard contact tracing process. Meanwhile, all other students will be able to return to onsite learning – generally the next day, unless there are further cases immediately associated with a school, in which case further contact tracing may be required. In addition to a trial of rapid home testing for school communities, the Department of Health is working with the Department of Education and Training on an additional, wider trial of the use of rapid antigen testing in school settings as part of the suite of COVID safe measures for schools. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Our final year students have shown incredible resilience throughout the pandemic on top of trying to finish their schooling – it’s only right that we ensure as many students as possible sit their exams and finish the year strongly.” “While these changes will allow students who are close contacts into schools for exams, we’re taking every precaution to make sure all other VCE students and our hardworking school staff are kept safe.” Download the media release

Tailored Mental Health Support For Schools And Students

Schools will be able to pick the mental health tools that best match the needs of their students, with the Victorian Government’s Schools Mental Health Fund providing a suite of options to give students tailored support. Minister for Education James Merlino today revealed the interim menu of resources and initiatives to be available to government schools as part of the $200 million Fund, designed to better support students’ mental health. The move delivers on a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which called for a fund to support schools with evidence-informed initiatives for students’ mental health and wellbeing. Schools will be able to select evidence-based programs and initiatives from the online menu across three tiers of intervention: Tier One: positive mental health promotion, including initiatives like Active Schools, mental health first aid, anti-bullying programs and therapy dogs as whole-school investments to help create a positive, inclusive environment, as well as mental health literacy training to ensure mental health issues are addressed early Tier Two: early intervention and cohort-specific initiatives including cross-cultural responsiveness training, Arts Therapy or trauma informed care, ensuring programs cater to all students Tier Three: targeted support for those experiencing mental health issues such as additional mental health professionals, additional Headspace counselling, or suicide related support As per the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the Fund will be implemented in all government schools across regional Victoria from mid-2022 and will be in every state school by 2024. This comes on top of the Government’s completed rollout of a mental health practitioner in every government secondary school. Further, an additional 74 primary schools across Victoria will join the Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot in 2022 – bringing the total number of schools in the pilot to 100. A partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot provides schools with funding for a Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead to implement a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing aimed at younger children. Work to reform the state’s mental health services is well underway, with a record $3.8 billion allocated in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to deliver every single recommendation of the Royal Commission and build a system that works for every Victorian. To access the menu, visit https://www.education.vic.gov.au/mental-health-menu-for-schools. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Now more than ever, our kids need support both at home and at school to make sure their wellbeing is on track. These tailored initiatives will help keep Victorian students happy and healthy, so they can focus on succeeding in their learning as we emerge from the pandemic.” “Our schools play a central role in the development of every young Victorian – that’s why it is so important they take a leadership role in supporting student mental health.” Download the media release

Tailored Mental Health Support For Schools And Students

Schools will be able to pick the mental health tools that best match the needs of their students, with the Victorian Government’s Schools Mental Health Fund providing a suite of options to give students tailored support. Minister for Education James Merlino today revealed the interim menu of resources and initiatives to be available to government schools as part of the $200 million Fund, designed to better support students’ mental health. The move delivers on a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which called for a fund to support schools with evidence-informed initiatives for students’ mental health and wellbeing. Schools will be able to select evidence-based programs and initiatives from the online menu across three tiers of intervention: Tier One: positive mental health promotion, including initiatives like Active Schools, mental health first aid, anti-bullying programs and therapy dogs as whole-school investments to help create a positive, inclusive environment, as well as mental health literacy training to ensure mental health issues are addressed early Tier Two: early intervention and cohort-specific initiatives including cross-cultural responsiveness training, Arts Therapy or trauma informed care, ensuring programs cater to all students Tier Three: targeted support for those experiencing mental health issues such as additional mental health professionals, additional Headspace counselling, or suicide related support As per the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the Fund will be implemented in all government schools across regional Victoria from mid-2022 and will be in every state school by 2024. This comes on top of the Government’s completed rollout of a mental health practitioner in every government secondary school. Further, an additional 74 primary schools across Victoria will join the Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot in 2022 – bringing the total number of schools in the pilot to 100. A partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot provides schools with funding for a Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead to implement a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing aimed at younger children. Work to reform the state’s mental health services is well underway, with a record $3.8 billion allocated in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to deliver every single recommendation of the Royal Commission and build a system that works for every Victorian. To access the menu, visit https://www.education.vic.gov.au/mental-health-menu-for-schools. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Now more than ever, our kids need support both at home and at school to make sure their wellbeing is on track. These tailored initiatives will help keep Victorian students happy and healthy, so they can focus on succeeding in their learning as we emerge from the pandemic.” “Our schools play a central role in the development of every young Victorian – that’s why it is so important they take a leadership role in supporting student mental health.” Download the media release

Building The Engine Room Of Our New Mental Health System

The Victorian Government has today introduced legislation which will lay the foundations to build a new mental health facility following a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. The Royal Commission’s interim report recommended the establishment of the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing (the Collaborative Centre) ─ embodying a new approach to mental health and characterised by collaboration, responsiveness and continuous improvement. The Collaborative Centre will be the engine room for the transformed mental health and wellbeing system ─ bringing together people with lived experience, researchers and clinicians to establish best practice in mental health and wellbeing services. Located in Melbourne, this purpose-built facility will be the first of its kind in Australia ─ conducting research and providing a full suite of mental health services to adults and older adults, helping to translate cutting-edge research into real system improvement. Think of it as like the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre ─ a world-leading treatment and research facility in the heart of our city that is breaking new ground in research every day ─ but for mental health. The proposed legislation will ensure people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress are represented at every level of the Collaborative Centre, including on its Governance Board, as part of an innovative co-director model of executive leadership. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 allocated $3.8 million to establish the Collaborative Centre ─ building on funding of $2.2 million in the Victorian Budget 2020/21 to commence early planning, including the examination of exemplar collaborative centres around both Australia and the world. A record $3.8 billion was allocated in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to support the start of this critical mental health and wellbeing reform and to support the system now ─ to ensure struggling Victorians get the treatment and care they need, when they need it. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino  “We’re building a new, more responsive, compassionate and connected mental health system for all Victorians and the Collaborative Centre will be at its core.” “This will be a facility for all Victorians and the benefits of its cutting edge research and world-class training will flow on to everyone across the state.” Download the media release

Building The Engine Room Of Our New Mental Health System

The Victorian Government has today introduced legislation which will lay the foundations to build a new mental health facility following a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. The Royal Commission’s interim report recommended the establishment of the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing (the Collaborative Centre) ─ embodying a new approach to mental health and characterised by collaboration, responsiveness and continuous improvement. The Collaborative Centre will be the engine room for the transformed mental health and wellbeing system ─ bringing together people with lived experience, researchers and clinicians to establish best practice in mental health and wellbeing services. Located in Melbourne, this purpose-built facility will be the first of its kind in Australia ─ conducting research and providing a full suite of mental health services to adults and older adults, helping to translate cutting-edge research into real system improvement. Think of it as like the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre ─ a world-leading treatment and research facility in the heart of our city that is breaking new ground in research every day ─ but for mental health. The proposed legislation will ensure people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress are represented at every level of the Collaborative Centre, including on its Governance Board, as part of an innovative co-director model of executive leadership. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 allocated $3.8 million to establish the Collaborative Centre ─ building on funding of $2.2 million in the Victorian Budget 2020/21 to commence early planning, including the examination of exemplar collaborative centres around both Australia and the world. A record $3.8 billion was allocated in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to support the start of this critical mental health and wellbeing reform and to support the system now ─ to ensure struggling Victorians get the treatment and care they need, when they need it. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino  “We’re building a new, more responsive, compassionate and connected mental health system for all Victorians and the Collaborative Centre will be at its core.” “This will be a facility for all Victorians and the benefits of its cutting edge research and world-class training will flow on to everyone across the state.” Download the media release

A Head Start On The Early Childhood Career Path

Secondary students eager to work in the early childhood sector can start their career path early, thanks to a new partnership between a national early childhood provider and the Victorian Government’s Head Start program. Minister for Education James Merlino today launched a Head Start partnership with Think Childcare ─ the largest brokered by the Head Start initiative for the early childhood education qualification. At least one Head Start school-based trainee will be placed in each of Think Childcare’s 49 centres across Victoria ─ providing a supported pathway for almost 50 students to gain experience and training in the growing early           childhood education sector while also helping meet workforce needs in local areas. Trainees will receive a high-quality education from early learning training specialist Selmar Institute of Education ─ helping them gain a Certification III Early Childhood Education and Care qualification. In the first year, they will spend one to two days per week in paid employment, increasing to three to four days in their final year. The $49.8 million Head Start initiative is a model for apprenticeships and traineeships for school students, supporting them to complete their VCE or VCAL alongside paid on-the-job training so they can achieve both a vocational and school-based education. The Head Start initiative will deliver up to 1,700 apprenticeships and traineeships by 30 June 2022, supported by school-based staff responsible for matching students with high-quality employers – with 10 Head Start clusters already established across 130 schools in Victoria. The Government has invested $38.1 million to transform vocational and applied learning in senior secondary schooling, which includes the development of a new single integrated senior secondary certificate. The Government is also investing $210 million over seven years to attract and retain a high-quality early childhood workforce as part of the statewide roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We are creating education and training pathways for students to get the skills they need for the jobs they want, while completing their senior secondary education.” Quote attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt “We are pleased to provide a supported pathway for students to take the first step into the growing early childhood education sector, while also helping meet local workforce demand.” Quote attributable to Think Childcare Quality Advisor Kylie Morris “This opportunity will open so many doors to the courageous trainees who choose to go on this journey with us. However, the real winners will be children who will benefit from the impact these students make in their lives.” Quote attributable to Selmar Institute of Education Chief Executive Officer Jo Asquith “We are excited to be able to provide future-ready, care and compassionate skills to young career makers aspiring to become the next leaders in a such a vital sector.” Download the media release

A Head Start On The Early Childhood Career Path

Secondary students eager to work in the early childhood sector can start their career path early, thanks to a new partnership between a national early childhood provider and the Victorian Government’s Head Start program. Minister for Education James Merlino today launched a Head Start partnership with Think Childcare ─ the largest brokered by the Head Start initiative for the early childhood education qualification. At least one Head Start school-based trainee will be placed in each of Think Childcare’s 49 centres across Victoria ─ providing a supported pathway for almost 50 students to gain experience and training in the growing early           childhood education sector while also helping meet workforce needs in local areas. Trainees will receive a high-quality education from early learning training specialist Selmar Institute of Education ─ helping them gain a Certification III Early Childhood Education and Care qualification. In the first year, they will spend one to two days per week in paid employment, increasing to three to four days in their final year. The $49.8 million Head Start initiative is a model for apprenticeships and traineeships for school students, supporting them to complete their VCE or VCAL alongside paid on-the-job training so they can achieve both a vocational and school-based education. The Head Start initiative will deliver up to 1,700 apprenticeships and traineeships by 30 June 2022, supported by school-based staff responsible for matching students with high-quality employers – with 10 Head Start clusters already established across 130 schools in Victoria. The Government has invested $38.1 million to transform vocational and applied learning in senior secondary schooling, which includes the development of a new single integrated senior secondary certificate. The Government is also investing $210 million over seven years to attract and retain a high-quality early childhood workforce as part of the statewide roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We are creating education and training pathways for students to get the skills they need for the jobs they want, while completing their senior secondary education.” Quote attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt “We are pleased to provide a supported pathway for students to take the first step into the growing early childhood education sector, while also helping meet local workforce demand.” Quote attributable to Think Childcare Quality Advisor Kylie Morris “This opportunity will open so many doors to the courageous trainees who choose to go on this journey with us. However, the real winners will be children who will benefit from the impact these students make in their lives.” Quote attributable to Selmar Institute of Education Chief Executive Officer Jo Asquith “We are excited to be able to provide future-ready, care and compassionate skills to young career makers aspiring to become the next leaders in a such a vital sector.” Download the media release

Supporting Families Experiencing Anxiety

Victorian parents and carers now have free access to dedicated online programs to support children experiencing anxiety, as part of the Victorian Government’s latest mental health funding boost. An investment of $1 million will expand the Triple P Positive Parenting Program statewide, supporting more than 20,000 Victorian families whose children are facing anxiety – whether that’s due to the pandemic or other triggers. The program consists of three online modules aimed at parents of children aged 0-16 experiencing anxiety, anger and depression. Triple P Online supports parents of children aged 0-12 years, Teen Triple P Online is targeted at parents of children 10-16 years old, and the brand new Fear Less Triple P Online is designed for parents whose children are aged 6-14 years old. The Fear-Less program provides 24/7 tips, strategies and guidance for parents and carers on how to help their children manage their stress and become more emotionally resilient in challenging, uncertain times. All the Triple P programs are translated into various languages, and are available for 12 months for any Victorian families who register online at triplep-parenting.net.au. The investment is part of a new $22 million package that is already delivering fast-tracked, tailored mental health and wellbeing care to Victorians in their own communities – reducing the burden on our emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows. As students begin to return to school from this week, the Victorian Government has also completed its rollout of a dedicated mental health practitioner in every government secondary school and specialist school across Victoria – a year ahead of schedule. On top of the $247 million already invested to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, the Government has invested $28.5 million in specific school-based measures to keep students healthy and safe. Work to reform the state’s mental health services is well underway, with a record $3.8 billion allocated in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to deliver every single recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and build a system that works for every Victorian. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “There is no doubt that the pandemic has been profoundly challenging for many young people, which can be really challenging for their families – this immediate support will give every parent or carer the tools they need to cope with extra stress.” “Whether it’s new community mental health facilities or dedicated mental health practitioners in schools, we’re making sure our recovery from the pandemic doesn’t leave a single Victorian child behind.” Download the media release

Supporting Families Experiencing Anxiety

Victorian parents and carers now have free access to dedicated online programs to support children experiencing anxiety, as part of the Victorian Government’s latest mental health funding boost. An investment of $1 million will expand the Triple P Positive Parenting Program statewide, supporting more than 20,000 Victorian families whose children are facing anxiety – whether that’s due to the pandemic or other triggers. The program consists of three online modules aimed at parents of children aged 0-16 experiencing anxiety, anger and depression. Triple P Online supports parents of children aged 0-12 years, Teen Triple P Online is targeted at parents of children 10-16 years old, and the brand new Fear Less Triple P Online is designed for parents whose children are aged 6-14 years old. The Fear-Less program provides 24/7 tips, strategies and guidance for parents and carers on how to help their children manage their stress and become more emotionally resilient in challenging, uncertain times. All the Triple P programs are translated into various languages, and are available for 12 months for any Victorian families who register online at triplep-parenting.net.au. The investment is part of a new $22 million package that is already delivering fast-tracked, tailored mental health and wellbeing care to Victorians in their own communities – reducing the burden on our emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows. As students begin to return to school from this week, the Victorian Government has also completed its rollout of a dedicated mental health practitioner in every government secondary school and specialist school across Victoria – a year ahead of schedule. On top of the $247 million already invested to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, the Government has invested $28.5 million in specific school-based measures to keep students healthy and safe. Work to reform the state’s mental health services is well underway, with a record $3.8 billion allocated in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to deliver every single recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and build a system that works for every Victorian. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “There is no doubt that the pandemic has been profoundly challenging for many young people, which can be really challenging for their families – this immediate support will give every parent or carer the tools they need to cope with extra stress.” “Whether it’s new community mental health facilities or dedicated mental health practitioners in schools, we’re making sure our recovery from the pandemic doesn’t leave a single Victorian child behind.” Download the media release

Mental Health Advisory Bodies Giving Communities A Voice

The Victorian Government is continuing its work to build a reformed mental health and wellbeing system centred around community – giving Victorians access to the support they need, when they need it, close to home. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino today announced expressions of interest are now open for Chairs of the eight new Mental Health and Wellbeing Interim Regional Bodies to be established across the state. The Interim Regional Bodies were a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and will be based in the three metropolitan regions of North-East, South-East and Western metro as well as in the Grampians, Loddon Mallee, Hume, Gippsland and South-West areas of regional Victoria. These Interim Regional Bodies will give a voice to local communities ─ bringing together people with local knowledge and expertise to advise and guide Government on the unique mental health and wellbeing needs of communities across the state. Each body will consist of a Chair and five members – including at least one person with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress, and at least one person with lived experience as a family member or carer. In its final report, the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System set out a 10-year plan to rebuild the system from the ground up, recommending a significant transformation to the way decisions are made in relation to Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing services. The eight Interim Regional Bodies are an intermediary step towards regional governance, which will be cemented by the establishment of the legislated Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards across Victoria by the end of 2023. For more information, including how to apply, visit boards.vic.gov.au. To build the state’s new mental health system that meets the needs of all Victorians, the Victorian Budget 2021/22 invested a record $3.8 billion in mental health and wellbeing services and support. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “Our future mental health system will be responsive to people who need it most, with services that are safe, tailored and localised – and that’s why we need the expertise of community members from every corner of our state.” “With community care at the heart of our mental health reform, this is an opportunity to be part of helping us create fit-for-purpose local mental health and wellbeing services that deliver for Victorians.” Download the media release

Mental Health Advisory Bodies Giving Communities A Voice

The Victorian Government is continuing its work to build a reformed mental health and wellbeing system centred around community – giving Victorians access to the support they need, when they need it, close to home. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino today announced expressions of interest are now open for Chairs of the eight new Mental Health and Wellbeing Interim Regional Bodies to be established across the state. The Interim Regional Bodies were a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and will be based in the three metropolitan regions of North-East, South-East and Western metro as well as in the Grampians, Loddon Mallee, Hume, Gippsland and South-West areas of regional Victoria. These Interim Regional Bodies will give a voice to local communities ─ bringing together people with local knowledge and expertise to advise and guide Government on the unique mental health and wellbeing needs of communities across the state. Each body will consist of a Chair and five members – including at least one person with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress, and at least one person with lived experience as a family member or carer. In its final report, the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System set out a 10-year plan to rebuild the system from the ground up, recommending a significant transformation to the way decisions are made in relation to Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing services. The eight Interim Regional Bodies are an intermediary step towards regional governance, which will be cemented by the establishment of the legislated Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards across Victoria by the end of 2023. For more information, including how to apply, visit boards.vic.gov.au. To build the state’s new mental health system that meets the needs of all Victorians, the Victorian Budget 2021/22 invested a record $3.8 billion in mental health and wellbeing services and support. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “Our future mental health system will be responsive to people who need it most, with services that are safe, tailored and localised – and that’s why we need the expertise of community members from every corner of our state.” “With community care at the heart of our mental health reform, this is an opportunity to be part of helping us create fit-for-purpose local mental health and wellbeing services that deliver for Victorians.” Download the media release

Supporting Our Senior Vocational Education Students

The Victorian Government is making sure every secondary school student whose Vocational Education and Training (VET) studies have been disrupted by the pandemic will receive extra support to complete their certificates. Minister for Education James Merlino and Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney today announced that VET students will benefit from catch-up funding – helping schools and non-school providers cover costs like extra fees or materials so Year 11 and 12 students can complete their applied VET studies in Term 4. Disruptions to on-site learning have had a significant impact on many school students, but especially those in their final years of school undertaking hands-on, vocational VET subjects as part of their VCE or VCAL. This catch-up support will cover any changed VET unit enrolments, teacher release or transport costs associated with additional training that cannot be met within providers’ current VET budgets. If any students are unable to complete VET units due to disruptions, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will consider granting credits for non-scored VET units, which can count towards a student’s VCE or VCAL qualification. On top of extra support, every Victorian student whose final year of school has been affected by the pandemic is guaranteed that the only thing that will count towards their final score is their hard work and effort, with the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process to continue this year as it did in 2020. The process considers a range of data alongside exam results to calculate final VCE results – like the GAT, compared performance across all assessments, and other learning data – alongside the impact of the pandemic on each student including school closures, direct physical and mental health impacts and issues with remote learning. Students can submit an individual student statement detailing the impacts of coronavirus on their final year of schooling, which will be taken into consideration alongside their learning outcomes. All Year 12 VCAL students will also have access to individual consideration, with schools required to apply special consideration for all students subject to significant disruptions. Further information on VET support can be found at https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vocational-education-and-training-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19. More information on the VCE Consideration of Educational Disadvantage, VCAL Special Consideration and VET Unspecified Credit can be found at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We know how incredibly challenging the past two years have been for all students, especially those doing hands-on VET subjects – that’s why we’re providing extra support to make sure they can complete their training in Term Four.” “Whether it’s extra materials or additional teacher costs, we’re investing in both schools and non-school VET providers to ensure all students can finish their studies off strongly.” Download the media release

Supporting Our Senior Vocational Education Students

The Victorian Government is making sure every secondary school student whose Vocational Education and Training (VET) studies have been disrupted by the pandemic will receive extra support to complete their certificates. Minister for Education James Merlino and Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney today announced that VET students will benefit from catch-up funding – helping schools and non-school providers cover costs like extra fees or materials so Year 11 and 12 students can complete their applied VET studies in Term 4. Disruptions to on-site learning have had a significant impact on many school students, but especially those in their final years of school undertaking hands-on, vocational VET subjects as part of their VCE or VCAL. This catch-up support will cover any changed VET unit enrolments, teacher release or transport costs associated with additional training that cannot be met within providers’ current VET budgets. If any students are unable to complete VET units due to disruptions, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will consider granting credits for non-scored VET units, which can count towards a student’s VCE or VCAL qualification. On top of extra support, every Victorian student whose final year of school has been affected by the pandemic is guaranteed that the only thing that will count towards their final score is their hard work and effort, with the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process to continue this year as it did in 2020. The process considers a range of data alongside exam results to calculate final VCE results – like the GAT, compared performance across all assessments, and other learning data – alongside the impact of the pandemic on each student including school closures, direct physical and mental health impacts and issues with remote learning. Students can submit an individual student statement detailing the impacts of coronavirus on their final year of schooling, which will be taken into consideration alongside their learning outcomes. All Year 12 VCAL students will also have access to individual consideration, with schools required to apply special consideration for all students subject to significant disruptions. Further information on VET support can be found at https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vocational-education-and-training-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19. More information on the VCE Consideration of Educational Disadvantage, VCAL Special Consideration and VET Unspecified Credit can be found at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We know how incredibly challenging the past two years have been for all students, especially those doing hands-on VET subjects – that’s why we’re providing extra support to make sure they can complete their training in Term Four.” “Whether it’s extra materials or additional teacher costs, we’re investing in both schools and non-school VET providers to ensure all students can finish their studies off strongly.” Download the media release

 

Preserving The Spirit Of Democracy For Young Victorians

Students with a keen interest in civics and citizenship can apply for the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and critical thinking through an immersive onshore study tour, thanks to the Victorian Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced applications are now open for the 2021-22 Premier’s Spirit of Democracy, with successful students to gain a glimpse into how ancient Greece helped shape modern Australian democracy through a five-day study tour in Melbourne and Canberra. The Premier’s Spirit of Democracy program gives students a deeper understanding of democracy through immersive learning experiences, where they can learn from the works of classical thinkers like Plato and Aristotle as well as modern expressions of civic engagement. The study tour will take place from 10-14 April 2022, and is open to all secondary students currently in Years 9, 10 and 11 from government, Catholic and independent schools – with 22 students and four teacher chaperones to be selected. Students will be encouraged to form their own perspectives on contemporary democratic systems and what they mean for young Australians, collaborate with like-minded peers, and gain the skills and understanding needed to use their voices and help shape the future. The Premier’s Spirit of Democracy program maintains strong links to learning outcomes from the Victorian Foundation to Level 10 and senior secondary curriculums. To enter, students must submit an application in the form of an essay, short story, audio or video presentation, musical composition or artwork, as well as a statement of intent with any non-essay entries. Applications close on Sunday 7 November 2021. To enter, visit go.vic.gov.au/36jjQZ. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The Premier’s Spirit of Democracy is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain an understanding of how history has shaped our democratic system and values.” “We want students to be challenged to think creatively and critically, and to develop the skills they need to become leaders to bring positive change to their communities, both now and into the future.” “I encourage all students with an interest in civics and citizenship, history, philosophy or legal studies – as well as anyone who wants to build up their leadership skills – to apply for this exciting tour.” Download the media release

Preserving The Spirit Of Democracy For Young Victorians

Students with a keen interest in civics and citizenship can apply for the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and critical thinking through an immersive onshore study tour, thanks to the Victorian Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced applications are now open for the 2021-22 Premier’s Spirit of Democracy, with successful students to gain a glimpse into how ancient Greece helped shape modern Australian democracy through a five-day study tour in Melbourne and Canberra. The Premier’s Spirit of Democracy program gives students a deeper understanding of democracy through immersive learning experiences, where they can learn from the works of classical thinkers like Plato and Aristotle as well as modern expressions of civic engagement. The study tour will take place from 10-14 April 2022, and is open to all secondary students currently in Years 9, 10 and 11 from government, Catholic and independent schools – with 22 students and four teacher chaperones to be selected. Students will be encouraged to form their own perspectives on contemporary democratic systems and what they mean for young Australians, collaborate with like-minded peers, and gain the skills and understanding needed to use their voices and help shape the future. The Premier’s Spirit of Democracy program maintains strong links to learning outcomes from the Victorian Foundation to Level 10 and senior secondary curriculums. To enter, students must submit an application in the form of an essay, short story, audio or video presentation, musical composition or artwork, as well as a statement of intent with any non-essay entries. Applications close on Sunday 7 November 2021. To enter, visit go.vic.gov.au/36jjQZ. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The Premier’s Spirit of Democracy is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain an understanding of how history has shaped our democratic system and values.” “We want students to be challenged to think creatively and critically, and to develop the skills they need to become leaders to bring positive change to their communities, both now and into the future.” “I encourage all students with an interest in civics and citizenship, history, philosophy or legal studies – as well as anyone who wants to build up their leadership skills – to apply for this exciting tour.” Download the media release

More Mental Health Nurses To Help Victorians In Need

The Victorian Government is making sure all Victorians experiencing mental health concerns can get the specialised support they need with a boost to upskill and expand the state’s mental health nursing workforce. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino has announced a $23.6 million mental health nursing workforce package ─ supporting Victoria’s dedicated mental health nurses by investing in more graduate positions and upskilling nurses with a new postgraduate mental health scholarship program. The landmark Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended that at least 120 more funded graduate nurses each year be placed in public health services in areas of need to deliver their vital care to more Victorians. The Government is going above and beyond this recommendation ─ investing $18.6 million for an extra 150 full-time equivalent graduate mental health nurse positions and 49 nurse educator positions across 18 public health services in 2022, on top of the 115 positions funded last year. One third of all positions will be in regional Victoria – where increases in staff levels can have a huge impact on the level of care provided. Services include Albury Wodonga Health, Mildura Base Hospital, Ballarat Health Service, Bendigo Health, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Goulburn Valley Health, South West Healthcare and Barwon Health. Extra nurse educator positions have also been funded for rural and regional services across the Grampians region in Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham and South West Healthcare. Across the state, the Government is also investing $5.05 million in the new Victorian Postgraduate Mental Health Nurse Scholarship program – helping develop the highly specialised skills needed in the profession to care for people with more acute mental illness or psychological distress. This year’s scholarships have been awarded to 124 nurses working in mental health settings across metropolitan and regional Victoria. The scholarship pays the full course cost of a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing or contributes to a Master of Mental Health Nursing. Applications are now open for 140 new scholarships for 2022, administered by the Australian College of Nursing. For more information, visit acn.edu.au/scholarships. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invested $206 million in the mental health workforce to help deliver effective care, treatment and support in the rebuild of Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system. Quotes attributable to the Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “The mental health workforce is the beating heart of our system – so we’re supporting nurses to continue delivering world-class treatment, care and support to every Victorian who needs it.” “These new scholarships will inspire more nurses to further their career in mental health, giving them more financial support in the workforce and helping them be better equipped to care for Victorians.” Download the media release

More Mental Health Nurses To Help Victorians In Need

The Victorian Government is making sure all Victorians experiencing mental health concerns can get the specialised support they need with a boost to upskill and expand the state’s mental health nursing workforce. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino has announced a $23.6 million mental health nursing workforce package ─ supporting Victoria’s dedicated mental health nurses by investing in more graduate positions and upskilling nurses with a new postgraduate mental health scholarship program. The landmark Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended that at least 120 more funded graduate nurses each year be placed in public health services in areas of need to deliver their vital care to more Victorians. The Government is going above and beyond this recommendation ─ investing $18.6 million for an extra 150 full-time equivalent graduate mental health nurse positions and 49 nurse educator positions across 18 public health services in 2022, on top of the 115 positions funded last year. One third of all positions will be in regional Victoria – where increases in staff levels can have a huge impact on the level of care provided. Services include Albury Wodonga Health, Mildura Base Hospital, Ballarat Health Service, Bendigo Health, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Goulburn Valley Health, South West Healthcare and Barwon Health. Extra nurse educator positions have also been funded for rural and regional services across the Grampians region in Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham and South West Healthcare. Across the state, the Government is also investing $5.05 million in the new Victorian Postgraduate Mental Health Nurse Scholarship program – helping develop the highly specialised skills needed in the profession to care for people with more acute mental illness or psychological distress. This year’s scholarships have been awarded to 124 nurses working in mental health settings across metropolitan and regional Victoria. The scholarship pays the full course cost of a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing or contributes to a Master of Mental Health Nursing. Applications are now open for 140 new scholarships for 2022, administered by the Australian College of Nursing. For more information, visit acn.edu.au/scholarships. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invested $206 million in the mental health workforce to help deliver effective care, treatment and support in the rebuild of Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system. Quotes attributable to the Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “The mental health workforce is the beating heart of our system – so we’re supporting nurses to continue delivering world-class treatment, care and support to every Victorian who needs it.” “These new scholarships will inspire more nurses to further their career in mental health, giving them more financial support in the workforce and helping them be better equipped to care for Victorians.” Download the media release

TUTOR PROGRAM TO CONTINUE IN DANDENONG RANGES SCHOOLS

The Victorian Government will make sure that not one school student in Monbulk is left behind in the wake of the pandemic, with the state’s extraordinarily successful tutor program to continue until the end of 2022. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced today announced $230.4 million will extend the single biggest boost to individual learning support in the state’s history – allowing Victorian schools to retain the tutors that have supported students throughout 2021. The tutor program has called on pre-service teachers, teachers on leave, retired teachers and casual relief teachers to sign up and get back in the classroom – with at least one tutor in all government schools to ensure every Victorian child comes out of the pandemic with the confidence that their learning is on track. While the past two years have seen some students thrive with the flexibility and self-direction remote learning gave them, for others this period has been profoundly difficult – and the tutors have worked both in the classroom and through remote learning to identify and support the students who needed extra help with their learning. Students who struggled most during the pandemic included those with low levels of English, those already at risk of disengaging from school, or those with home environments not conducive to online learning. The tutors have had a hugely positive impact on hundreds of thousands of students, with Victoria recording nation-leading NAPLAN results in August, and an independent evaluation by Deloitte concluding the initiative improved attendance, achievement, and engagement among students – and had a positive impact on their confidence. Schools are responsible for employing their tutors based on the needs of their students, with tutors offering a range of expertise, experience and support to the students who need it most. Tutors work in small groups to provide tailored support for identified students who need assistance to catch up – regardless of their circumstances or background. The extra support for onsite tutors in 2022 will also ensure teaching teams can continue to provide dedicated and individualised support for students who need help. Small schools will also see their funding allocation increased from a minimum of $15,000 to $25,000 per school – allowing them to hire more support for their students after the challenges of 2021. Individual schools will continue to determine how tutoring support is best implemented in their school, ensuring the program is tailored to the needs of each student – with a focus on ensuring all students have caught up on key skills in numeracy and literacy. Quote attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “There’s no question that this pandemic has been a challenge for many students – but we’re making sure no Victorian child is left behind, with thousands of dedicated tutors to make sure everyone can catch up and prepare for a much better 2022.” “Our tutors have done incredible work throughout this year helping students succeed, and Victoria’s nation- leading NAPLAN results are a testament to their dedication and hard work in schools across the state.” “We’re making sure every child in the Dandenong Ranges is given the support they need to succeed at school.”  

TUTOR PROGRAM TO CONTINUE IN DANDENONG RANGES SCHOOLS

The Victorian Government will make sure that not one school student in Monbulk is left behind in the wake of the pandemic, with the state’s extraordinarily successful tutor program to continue until the end of 2022. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced today announced $230.4 million will extend the single biggest boost to individual learning support in the state’s history – allowing Victorian schools to retain the tutors that have supported students throughout 2021. The tutor program has called on pre-service teachers, teachers on leave, retired teachers and casual relief teachers to sign up and get back in the classroom – with at least one tutor in all government schools to ensure every Victorian child comes out of the pandemic with the confidence that their learning is on track. While the past two years have seen some students thrive with the flexibility and self-direction remote learning gave them, for others this period has been profoundly difficult – and the tutors have worked both in the classroom and through remote learning to identify and support the students who needed extra help with their learning. Students who struggled most during the pandemic included those with low levels of English, those already at risk of disengaging from school, or those with home environments not conducive to online learning. The tutors have had a hugely positive impact on hundreds of thousands of students, with Victoria recording nation-leading NAPLAN results in August, and an independent evaluation by Deloitte concluding the initiative improved attendance, achievement, and engagement among students – and had a positive impact on their confidence. Schools are responsible for employing their tutors based on the needs of their students, with tutors offering a range of expertise, experience and support to the students who need it most. Tutors work in small groups to provide tailored support for identified students who need assistance to catch up – regardless of their circumstances or background. The extra support for onsite tutors in 2022 will also ensure teaching teams can continue to provide dedicated and individualised support for students who need help. Small schools will also see their funding allocation increased from a minimum of $15,000 to $25,000 per school – allowing them to hire more support for their students after the challenges of 2021. Individual schools will continue to determine how tutoring support is best implemented in their school, ensuring the program is tailored to the needs of each student – with a focus on ensuring all students have caught up on key skills in numeracy and literacy. Quote attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “There’s no question that this pandemic has been a challenge for many students – but we’re making sure no Victorian child is left behind, with thousands of dedicated tutors to make sure everyone can catch up and prepare for a much better 2022.” “Our tutors have done incredible work throughout this year helping students succeed, and Victoria’s nation- leading NAPLAN results are a testament to their dedication and hard work in schools across the state.” “We’re making sure every child in the Dandenong Ranges is given the support they need to succeed at school.”  

WORK STARTS ON SASSAFRAS SCHOOL UPGRADE

Better facilities are on their way for students at Sassafras Primary School with works commencing on an important upgrade thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced works are underway at Sassafras Primary School to upgrade the playground and surrounding play space to provide a compliant, safe and natural play area. The Labor Government has provided $298,165 to go towards the project. In the past seven years, the Victorian Government has invested more than $10.9 billion in building new schools and more than 1,700 school upgrades, creating around 13,500 jobs in construction and associated industries. It is now ahead of schedule in its commitment to open 100 new schools by 2026, with 62 new schools opening between 2019 and 2024. While much of this funding went on new schools and significant upgrades to help meet increasing demand, the Minor Capital Works fund is about delivering the small projects that make a big difference while also supporting local jobs. Projects through the Minor Capital Works Fund will be progressively delivered with all projects to be completed by the end of 2022. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests $20 million in the Minor Capital Works Fund to improve learning spaces as well as the condition and character of schools. More than 300 Victorian government schools have been allocated funding to fast-track priority projects under the Minor Capital Works Fund to improve learning environments as well as the condition and character of schools. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “Every student should have a great school, no matter where they live. That’s why we’re investing in hundreds of small but important projects that will make a big difference for schools and create jobs for Victorians.” “We’re making sure that our schools have the best facilities, our classrooms have the best teachers and that every child is given every chance to succeed.” “Sassafras families are a step closer to getting the great local school facilities their kids need to thrive.”

WORK STARTS ON SASSAFRAS SCHOOL UPGRADE

Better facilities are on their way for students at Sassafras Primary School with works commencing on an important upgrade thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced works are underway at Sassafras Primary School to upgrade the playground and surrounding play space to provide a compliant, safe and natural play area. The Labor Government has provided $298,165 to go towards the project. In the past seven years, the Victorian Government has invested more than $10.9 billion in building new schools and more than 1,700 school upgrades, creating around 13,500 jobs in construction and associated industries. It is now ahead of schedule in its commitment to open 100 new schools by 2026, with 62 new schools opening between 2019 and 2024. While much of this funding went on new schools and significant upgrades to help meet increasing demand, the Minor Capital Works fund is about delivering the small projects that make a big difference while also supporting local jobs. Projects through the Minor Capital Works Fund will be progressively delivered with all projects to be completed by the end of 2022. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests $20 million in the Minor Capital Works Fund to improve learning spaces as well as the condition and character of schools. More than 300 Victorian government schools have been allocated funding to fast-track priority projects under the Minor Capital Works Fund to improve learning environments as well as the condition and character of schools. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “Every student should have a great school, no matter where they live. That’s why we’re investing in hundreds of small but important projects that will make a big difference for schools and create jobs for Victorians.” “We’re making sure that our schools have the best facilities, our classrooms have the best teachers and that every child is given every chance to succeed.” “Sassafras families are a step closer to getting the great local school facilities their kids need to thrive.”

Statewide Mental Health Support For Secondary Schools

Every government secondary student in Victoria can now access vital mental health support at school with the roll out of mental health practitioners to every Victorian government secondary and specialist school now complete. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced the roll out of the $51.2 million Mental Health Practitioners initiative will be finalised by Term Four ─ a year earlier than originally committed to, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last phase of the roll out will see more than 50 secondary and specialist schools in Goulburn, Brimbank/Melton and Wimmera South West receive funding to recruit a mental health practitioner from the start of Term Four. The support will enable schools 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. Supporting around 188,000 students, these practitioners offer counselling and early intervention services, support 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 Minister for Education James Merlino “Students, teachers, families and school communities have been incredibly resilient throughout this pandemic ─ but we know it’s been incredibly difficult for many of our kids, and we’re making sure they’re supported while studying.” “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.” Download the media release here

Statewide Mental Health Support For Secondary Schools

Every government secondary student in Victoria can now access vital mental health support at school with the roll out of mental health practitioners to every Victorian government secondary and specialist school now complete. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced the roll out of the $51.2 million Mental Health Practitioners initiative will be finalised by Term Four ─ a year earlier than originally committed to, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last phase of the roll out will see more than 50 secondary and specialist schools in Goulburn, Brimbank/Melton and Wimmera South West receive funding to recruit a mental health practitioner from the start of Term Four. The support will enable schools 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. Supporting around 188,000 students, these practitioners offer counselling and early intervention services, support 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 Minister for Education James Merlino “Students, teachers, families and school communities have been incredibly resilient throughout this pandemic ─ but we know it’s been incredibly difficult for many of our kids, and we’re making sure they’re supported while studying.” “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.” Download the media release here

Tutor Program To Continue In Victorian Schools

The Victorian Government will make sure that not one school student is left behind in the wake of the pandemic, with the state’s extraordinarily successful tutor program to continue until the end of 2022. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced $230.4 million will extend the single biggest boost to individual learning support in the state’s history – allowing Victorian schools to retain the tutors that have supported students throughout 2021. The tutor program has called on pre-service teachers, teachers on leave, retired teachers and casual relief teachers to sign up and get back in the classroom – with at least one tutor in all government schools to ensure every Victorian child comes out of the pandemic with the confidence that their learning is on track. While the past two years have seen some students thrive with the flexibility and self-direction remote learning gave them, for others this period has been profoundly difficult – and the tutors have worked both in the classroom and through remote learning to identify and support the students who needed extra help with their learning. Students who struggled most during the pandemic included those with low levels of English, those already at risk of disengaging from school, or those with home environments not conducive to online learning. The tutors have had a hugely positive impact on hundreds of thousands of students, with Victoria recording nation-leading NAPLAN results in August, and an independent evaluation by Deloitte concluding the initiative improved attendance, achievement, and engagement among students – and had a positive impact on their confidence. Schools are responsible for employing their tutors based on the needs of their students, with tutors offering a range of expertise, experience and support to the students who need it most. Tutors work in small groups to provide tailored support for identified students who need assistance to catch up – regardless of their circumstances or background. The extra support for onsite tutors in 2022 will also ensure teaching teams can continue to provide dedicated and individualised support for students who need help. Small schools will also see their funding allocation increased from a minimum of $15,000 to $25,000 per school – allowing them to hire more support for their students after the challenges of 2021. Individual schools will continue to determine how tutoring support is best implemented in their school, ensuring the program is tailored to the needs of each student – with a focus on ensuring all students have caught up on key skills in numeracy and literacy. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “There’s no question that this pandemic has been a challenge for many students – but we’re making sure no Victorian child is left behind, with thousands of dedicated tutors to make sure everyone can catch up and prepare for a much better 2022.” “Our tutors have done incredible work throughout this year helping students succeed, and Victoria’s nation-leading NAPLAN results are a testament to their dedication and hard work in schools across the state.” Download the media release

Tutor Program To Continue In Victorian Schools

The Victorian Government will make sure that not one school student is left behind in the wake of the pandemic, with the state’s extraordinarily successful tutor program to continue until the end of 2022. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced $230.4 million will extend the single biggest boost to individual learning support in the state’s history – allowing Victorian schools to retain the tutors that have supported students throughout 2021. The tutor program has called on pre-service teachers, teachers on leave, retired teachers and casual relief teachers to sign up and get back in the classroom – with at least one tutor in all government schools to ensure every Victorian child comes out of the pandemic with the confidence that their learning is on track. While the past two years have seen some students thrive with the flexibility and self-direction remote learning gave them, for others this period has been profoundly difficult – and the tutors have worked both in the classroom and through remote learning to identify and support the students who needed extra help with their learning. Students who struggled most during the pandemic included those with low levels of English, those already at risk of disengaging from school, or those with home environments not conducive to online learning. The tutors have had a hugely positive impact on hundreds of thousands of students, with Victoria recording nation-leading NAPLAN results in August, and an independent evaluation by Deloitte concluding the initiative improved attendance, achievement, and engagement among students – and had a positive impact on their confidence. Schools are responsible for employing their tutors based on the needs of their students, with tutors offering a range of expertise, experience and support to the students who need it most. Tutors work in small groups to provide tailored support for identified students who need assistance to catch up – regardless of their circumstances or background. The extra support for onsite tutors in 2022 will also ensure teaching teams can continue to provide dedicated and individualised support for students who need help. Small schools will also see their funding allocation increased from a minimum of $15,000 to $25,000 per school – allowing them to hire more support for their students after the challenges of 2021. Individual schools will continue to determine how tutoring support is best implemented in their school, ensuring the program is tailored to the needs of each student – with a focus on ensuring all students have caught up on key skills in numeracy and literacy. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “There’s no question that this pandemic has been a challenge for many students – but we’re making sure no Victorian child is left behind, with thousands of dedicated tutors to make sure everyone can catch up and prepare for a much better 2022.” “Our tutors have done incredible work throughout this year helping students succeed, and Victoria’s nation-leading NAPLAN results are a testament to their dedication and hard work in schools across the state.” Download the media release

Mental Health Support For Victoria’s Afghan Community

To help support Victoria’s Afghan community as the crisis in Afghanistan continues, the Victorian Government is boosting resources to ensure they can access culturally safe mental health services. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino today announced the Government will provide $1 million to Foundation House ─ a specialist service that supports individuals and families from refugee backgrounds who have experienced traumatic events. This funding will provide an immediate increase in counselling services for individuals, families and groups to help reduce emotional distress, build coping skills and foster social connections not only in response to the crisis but for the Victorian multicultural community as a whole. Community engagement work will further help assess individual needs and connect them to key health, wellbeing and education services. Funding will also strengthen Foundation House’s existing Schools Support Program to provide guidance and assistance to Victorian school staff working with students and families of Afghan background. To help improve the responsiveness of mainstream services to support the Afghan community, this initiative will also contribute to Foundation House’s trauma informed professional training and development programs. The program will assist members of Victoria’s Afghan community living in the South Eastern and Western areas of Melbourne and will further support service provision in regional areas of Victoria ─ ensuring that individuals and families receive help in in their own language as well as an understanding from people with similar past experiences. In response to the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, work has already begun in building a mental health system that works in partnership with Victoria’s diverse communities to ensure the delivery of safe, responsive and inclusive care. For more information, visit foundationhouse.org.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “We welcome all people arriving from Afghanistan and want to make sure that they, along with Victoria’s existing Afghan community, receive the culturally safe mental health support they need and deserve.” “Victoria has a proud record of helping migrants and asylum seekers from around the world and we will support the Afghan community however we can as they deal with the devastating situation unfolding in their country.” Quote attributable to Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence “We stand with Afghan Victorians who have shown incredible resilience, but who we know are deeply affected by the events that continue to unfold in Afghanistan.” Quote attributable to Foundation House CEO Paris Aristotle “The Victorian Afghan community is under immense pressure with many feeling traumatised and fearful for loved ones trapped inside Afghanistan ─ this initiative will help provide urgently needed services and support.” Download the media release

Mental Health Support For Victoria’s Afghan Community

To help support Victoria’s Afghan community as the crisis in Afghanistan continues, the Victorian Government is boosting resources to ensure they can access culturally safe mental health services. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino today announced the Government will provide $1 million to Foundation House ─ a specialist service that supports individuals and families from refugee backgrounds who have experienced traumatic events. This funding will provide an immediate increase in counselling services for individuals, families and groups to help reduce emotional distress, build coping skills and foster social connections not only in response to the crisis but for the Victorian multicultural community as a whole. Community engagement work will further help assess individual needs and connect them to key health, wellbeing and education services. Funding will also strengthen Foundation House’s existing Schools Support Program to provide guidance and assistance to Victorian school staff working with students and families of Afghan background. To help improve the responsiveness of mainstream services to support the Afghan community, this initiative will also contribute to Foundation House’s trauma informed professional training and development programs. The program will assist members of Victoria’s Afghan community living in the South Eastern and Western areas of Melbourne and will further support service provision in regional areas of Victoria ─ ensuring that individuals and families receive help in in their own language as well as an understanding from people with similar past experiences. In response to the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, work has already begun in building a mental health system that works in partnership with Victoria’s diverse communities to ensure the delivery of safe, responsive and inclusive care. For more information, visit foundationhouse.org.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “We welcome all people arriving from Afghanistan and want to make sure that they, along with Victoria’s existing Afghan community, receive the culturally safe mental health support they need and deserve.” “Victoria has a proud record of helping migrants and asylum seekers from around the world and we will support the Afghan community however we can as they deal with the devastating situation unfolding in their country.” Quote attributable to Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence “We stand with Afghan Victorians who have shown incredible resilience, but who we know are deeply affected by the events that continue to unfold in Afghanistan.” Quote attributable to Foundation House CEO Paris Aristotle “The Victorian Afghan community is under immense pressure with many feeling traumatised and fearful for loved ones trapped inside Afghanistan ─ this initiative will help provide urgently needed services and support.” Download the media release

A High-Tech Head Start For Secondary Students

The Victorian Government is giving senior secondary students more opportunities to expand their technology skills and build the skills they need for in-demand jobs of the future. Government secondary school students will have access to tech-enhanced TAFE courses from Term 4 as part of the Head Start Tech Futures pilot, giving them the chance to develop their skills with on-the-job training while completing their VCE or VCAL. The new and improved curriculum is part of the Head Start School Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship program, making sure students can get quality, industry-endorsed qualifications that meet the emerging needs of workplaces – and ultimately providing employers with committed and skilled trainees. The Government has invested $4.7 million over four years to deliver the project, which has seen two existing courses modified to incorporate additional digital and technology skills. Certificate II in Integrated Technologies has been revised by Swinburne Institute of Technology to include a new traineeship option, allowing students to be employed in the technology field while completing their studies – while Chisholm TAFE has revised Certificate III in Business. Students from Hallam Secondary College will be among the first to pilot the Certificate II in Integrated Technologies, while the Certificate III in Business has seen enrolments across a number of schools, including Warragul Regional College. Two new tech-specific Certificate III courses are also being developed by The Gordon TAFE and Holmesglen TAFE, to be piloted from February, 2022. The four courses will initially be available to students in selected Head Start schools as part of the pilot before being rolled out across the state, with potential for uptake by adult learners in future – allowing students to gain employment in subjects like coding, cybersecurity, web development, robotics and telehealth administration. The Head Start Tech Futures qualifications complement the Government’s senior secondary reforms following the Firth Review into vocational pathways for students – which recommended more action be taken to make vocational and applied learning in schools high-quality, relevant to the needs of employers, and available to all students. The reforms, which are currently before the Parliament, include the move to a single senior secondary certificate incorporating VCAL into VCE – supporting more students to graduate with the skills they need for Victoria’s growing industries. For more information, visit www.education.vic.gov.au/headstart. Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re getting Victorian students ready for the jobs of the future, making sure they have the opportunity at school to develop the skills that employers will really value in years to come.” Quote attributable to Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney “These high-quality training and apprenticeship pathways for students that in turn supply the industries of tomorrow with enthusiastic and dedicated employees.” Download the media release

A High-Tech Head Start For Secondary Students

The Victorian Government is giving senior secondary students more opportunities to expand their technology skills and build the skills they need for in-demand jobs of the future. Government secondary school students will have access to tech-enhanced TAFE courses from Term 4 as part of the Head Start Tech Futures pilot, giving them the chance to develop their skills with on-the-job training while completing their VCE or VCAL. The new and improved curriculum is part of the Head Start School Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship program, making sure students can get quality, industry-endorsed qualifications that meet the emerging needs of workplaces – and ultimately providing employers with committed and skilled trainees. The Government has invested $4.7 million over four years to deliver the project, which has seen two existing courses modified to incorporate additional digital and technology skills. Certificate II in Integrated Technologies has been revised by Swinburne Institute of Technology to include a new traineeship option, allowing students to be employed in the technology field while completing their studies – while Chisholm TAFE has revised Certificate III in Business. Students from Hallam Secondary College will be among the first to pilot the Certificate II in Integrated Technologies, while the Certificate III in Business has seen enrolments across a number of schools, including Warragul Regional College. Two new tech-specific Certificate III courses are also being developed by The Gordon TAFE and Holmesglen TAFE, to be piloted from February, 2022. The four courses will initially be available to students in selected Head Start schools as part of the pilot before being rolled out across the state, with potential for uptake by adult learners in future – allowing students to gain employment in subjects like coding, cybersecurity, web development, robotics and telehealth administration. The Head Start Tech Futures qualifications complement the Government’s senior secondary reforms following the Firth Review into vocational pathways for students – which recommended more action be taken to make vocational and applied learning in schools high-quality, relevant to the needs of employers, and available to all students. The reforms, which are currently before the Parliament, include the move to a single senior secondary certificate incorporating VCAL into VCE – supporting more students to graduate with the skills they need for Victoria’s growing industries. For more information, visit www.education.vic.gov.au/headstart. Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re getting Victorian students ready for the jobs of the future, making sure they have the opportunity at school to develop the skills that employers will really value in years to come.” Quote attributable to Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney “These high-quality training and apprenticeship pathways for students that in turn supply the industries of tomorrow with enthusiastic and dedicated employees.” Download the media release