The NSW Government has implemented the first phase of the Student Support Officer program, providing enhanced wellbeing and mental health support for students in Tweed.

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest said two schools in Tweed would be amongst the first to receive their Student Support Officer in NSW, as part of the Government’s $88.4 million commitment to provide every public high school in NSW with a full-time counselling support service on site as well as a Student Support Officer.

“After the year that has been 2020, with drought, bushfires, floods and of course the COVID-19 pandemic, students need to feel supported more than ever before,” Mr Provest said.

“Student Support Officers support the NSW Government’s whole-of-school approach to wellbeing, and will work alongside school counsellors and psychologists to ensure students are getting the support they need to deal with bullying, anxiety, stress and other difficult issues.

“Student Support Officers also play a pivotal role in working collaboratively with external child and family support agencies to support students, which is critical in areas like Tweed and right across the State.”

The first phase of 183 schools will receive their Student Support Officer from Term 3 2020.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said having a Student Support Officer onsite at schools means that approaches to wellbeing can be proactive, not reactive.

“It is incredibly important that we support our schools when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of our students in NSW, and we recognise that 2020 has been an especially challenging year for students and their families,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Student Support Officers can support individual students that are having a tough time or are experiencing circumstances that impact their wellbeing and engagement with their education,” Ms Mitchell said.

“In addition to these positions, schools in regional and rural NSW, including primary and central schools, have access to a team of specialist psychologists who will provide a dedicated fly-in-fly out service to ensure rural and remote students can access regular and timely psychology support.”

This year the NSW Government has employed an additional 25 school counsellors, bringing the total number of counsellors across NSW high schools to 1108.

Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronnie Taylor said that making sure students had access to health and wellbeing supports was crucial.

“Young people are experiencing extraordinary pressures right now, so it is understandable that they may be feeling stressed or unhappy and having higher levels of anxiety, which is why we’re making sure students are well supported.” Mrs Taylor said.

“This is about making it easier for students to get a helping hand on the spot when they are doing it tough, and that they know where to go to get additional specialist mental health and wellbeing support when they need it.”

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If you or anyone you know is experiencing emotional distress and needs support, please call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 and Lifeline on 13 11 14.