Students across NSW are being provided with critical school-based health and wellbeing support, as part of a $46.8 million NSW Government investment.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said 87 highly trained School Wellbeing Nurses are now providing care and support to students in approximately 300 rural, regional and metropolitan schools across the state.
"School Wellbeing Nurses play a critical role in identifying the health and social needs of students and their families, and then supporting and connecting them with the services they need," Mrs Taylor said.
"Having readily available health and wellbeing support is critical for children and young people, and we know our wellbeing nurses are making a big difference to the lives of students."
In 2021-22, more than 3,400 primary and secondary school students were seen by a wellbeing nurse, with the majority of students living in rural and regional NSW.
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said School Wellbeing Nurses are an invaluable addition to a school’s broader learning and support team, who contribute to the provision of an integrated, holistic approach to supporting student wellbeing.
"Wellbeing Nurses are trusted figures within the school community, who provide a safe and confidential place for children, young people and their families to seek advice about health and wellbeing supports," Ms Mitchell said.
"Our schools have really benefited from the Wellbeing Nurses’ expertise, which has helped improve the coordination of care for students, by facilitating access to health services and reducing the workload for school staff who support student wellbeing."
Wellbeing Nurse Wendy White said she was seeing the benefits of the program first-hand through her work with students and their families in the Murwillumbah community.
"Working together with the school counsellor service, student support roles and the school principals and deputy principals, we have been able to improve outcomes for students by helping them connect with various support agencies in the community," Ms White said.
"The support we’re able to provide to students has a positive flow-on effect with improved school performance and attendance, and better social connections between peers at school.
"We’re also helping students to become more aware of the mental health support services within their communities, by building the skills they will need once they leave school, setting them up for better self-advocacy both now and into their adult years.
"The schools I work with have embraced the health service working within the school space. The collaborative approach has been such a boost for students and their families."
The NSW Government has committed $46.8 million over four years to June 2024 to fund 100 wellbeing nurses, who are employed by NSW Health and co-located in select metropolitan, regional and rural public schools.
These positions are in addition to the six wellbeing nurses funded by the NSW Government until June 2023 in Cooma, Deniliquin, Lithgow, Murwillumbah, Tumut and Young as part of a pilot program.
An interactive map showing the NSW public schools
where wellbeing nurses are located is available on the NSW Health website.