Constituency Question: Doctors in Schools Initiative
Ros SPENCE (Yuroke) My question is to the Minister for Education. What is the latest information the minister can provide on how students in the Yuroke electorate are benefiting from the Andrews Labor government’s doctors in schools initiative? Two great local schools — Craigieburn Secondary College and Mount Ridley P-12 College — are participating in this initiative. It is no secret that adolescents have some of the lowest GP attendance rates, often instead using Google for medical information, making this innovative program all the more important. I am delighted that this government is helping to take pressure off local parents as well as ensuring that young people are healthy, happy and ready to learn. I look forward to the minister’s response.
The Minister for Education – I am informed as follows:
Adolescents have some of the lowest GP attendance rates of all population groups, meaning many may be missing out on the vital healthcare they need. The Doctors in Secondary Schools program is addressing barriers to access by bringing regular and reliable primary health care closer to students, reducing the pressure on working parents and assisting young people to identify and address any health problems early.
I am pleased to report that secondary students from Craigieburn Secondary School and Mount Ridley P-12 School have been benefiting from this fantastic program since clinic services commenced at their schools.
The students at these schools now have access to an adolescent-health trained GP up to one day a week, on school grounds in purpose-built clinical facilities, throughout the school term. Participating GPs will provide the same level of healthcare support for young people that they can access at any GP clinic in Victoria, with the only difference being the GP’s physical location. This means students can seek confidential advice on a range of physical, mental and sexual and reproductive health issues.
Early data from both these schools’ clinics indicates that students at these schools are accessing the GP clinic at rates that are on par with the average attendance across the program (which is approximately 5 students per weekly session). As at the end of June, at Craigieburn Secondary College, the program has seen 49 students and provided over 85 consultations. At Mount Ridley, 40 students have accessed the program, and 74 consultations since the service began in March this year.
In both of these schools, the predominant reason for visits by students has been for mental health issues – underlying the importance of this program helping students access the support they need. I am also pleased to add that, through a comprehensive clinician training and support program led by the University of Melbourne and funded by the Department of Education and Training, GPs servicing schools in the program have access to additional supports from experts in mental health – either through a telephone advice service run by Orygen Youth Mental Health or with weekly tele-psychiatry case management and mentoring from an expert youth psychiatrist from headspace. These additional supports mean that the GPs have extensive supports available in youth mental health – which is ultimately to the benefit of students at these and other schools in the program.
The Hon James Merlino MP
Minister for Education
Minister for Emergency Services