Education

$104 million boost for student support and wellbeing under re-elected McGowan Government

Posted on January 30, 2021
  • $42.2m for more than 100 additional psychologists in WA schools over the next four years
  • $38.5m to expand successful Alternative Learning Settings (ALS) pilot program across WA
  • $21.8m to enable every WA government school to purchase chaplaincy services
  • $1.4m expansion of Respectful Relationships program to prevent family and domestic violence
  • Wide ranging package expands McGowan Government’s successful programs, including 2018 Violence in Schools action plan

Western Australian schools will benefit from a wide-ranging $104 million package to improve safety and support for teachers, students and staff – expanding a number of successful programs – under a re-elected McGowan Government.

The extensive package builds on the McGowan Government’s considerable work to tackle school violence through the 2018 Violence in Schools action plan.

It includes $42.2 million to increase the number of school psychologists in WA government and non-government schools.

For public schools, this funding will provide 100 additional full-time school psychologists by 2024 – a 39 per cent increase on current numbers – as well as additional supervising and lead psychologists.

For non-government schools, where mental health services are underpinned by a separate funding agreement with the Non-Government School Psychology Service (NGPSP), the sector will receive a funding increase proportionate to that being provided to public schools.

This will provide non-government schools with an increased pool of funding for mental health services, with the sector itself to determine how exactly the additional funding will be spent and how many additional school psychologists will be employed.

School psychologists play a key role in supporting students, parents, teachers and staff – including mental health support, assistance with learning difficulties and help for students with disability.

The initiative will provide more assistance for the significant number of students presenting with mental health issues – with highly trained psychologists to provide support for those experiencing anxiety, depression or disengagement from school.

The additional investment will also expand the McGowan Government’s successful Alternative Learning Settings (ALS) and Respectful Relationships programs and provide every WA public school funding to engage a school chaplain.

The ALS program will expand into every education region in the State – providing separate learning environments for students who have committed violent acts and teaching self-regulation skills to cease these behaviours.

This system allows the vast majority of students who do not engage in these behaviours to learn without the threat of violence in the classroom.

Students who do commit violent acts at school are placed in a controlled environment where they can continue learning until they are ready to return to mainstream schooling.

The program was successfully piloted in the North and South metropolitan regions and Bunbury as part of the McGowan Government’s 2018 Violence in Schools action plan.

The expanded program will see new ALS sites in the metropolitan area, and the Kimberley, Mid West, Wheatbelt, Goldfields and Pilbara regions.

The wide-ranging package will also provide an additional $21.8 million for schools to engage chaplains – ensuring every WA State school has access to resources to provide additional emotional and social support for students.

Further, the Respectful Relationships Teaching Support Program will be expanded to teach more students about health and positive relationships in the context of family and domestic violence prevention.

The McGowan Government established the initiative in 2017, with this additional support to expand the program to 48 WA schools over the next four years.

The voluntary program has proven popular and is currently oversubscribed, with the additional support to allow it to expand and help stop the cycle of domestic violence in Western Australia.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“My government’s 2018 Violence in Schools action plan empowered principals, teachers and staff to take a stand against violent behaviour in our schools.

“In a WA first, we gave our principals and teachers new tactics to manage violent incidents and problem behaviour.

“This included automatic suspensions for students who instigated violence or filmed fights, and allowed principals to automatically move to expel students who attack teachers or other staff.

“Every student has the right to an education – but they do not have the right to attack other people.

“We continue to see increasing numbers of school aged children presenting with mental health issues. To ensure schools have the resources to provide support, we will increase the number of school psychologists in our State schools by 100 and we will make sure every WA public school has funding to engage a school chaplain.

“This comprehensive package will protect teachers and students from violence in our schools, provide more support for students’ mental health and psychological needs and ensure our public schools are safe, positive places to learn and work.”