Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (12:49:26): My constituency question is directed to the Honourable James Merlino, Deputy Premier and Minister for Education. The Andrews Labor government is rolling out mental health professionals in Victorian government schools to give students the support they need and to help reduce the number of young Victorians tragically taking their own lives. Earlier this month the Andrews Labor government announced the first schools that will receive support under the Mental Health Practitioners in Schools initiative. I understand that the $51.2 million program is set to be rolled out in 33 secondary schools in term 3, with announcements of it being further rolled out to 21 secondary school campuses in term 4. My question to the minister is: can the minister provide an update on when the schools in the Western Metropolitan Region will be receiving funding as part of the rollout?
Mr MERLINO (Monbulk—Minister for Education) (15 August 2019): The Andrews Labor Government has committed $51.2 million over four years, and $31 million ongoing, to enable every secondary school campus across the state to employ a mental health practitioner such as a psychologist, social worker or mental health nurse. The initiative is being implemented incrementally according to an Area-based model, commencing with Bayside Peninsula in Term 3, and Barwon in Term 4 2019. By 2022 every government secondary school campus, including all of the secondary schools in the Western Melbourne Area, will receive between one and five days a week of support from a mental health professional. The phased roll-out will help ensure there is adequate workforce supply across the state and the provision of support to schools to effectively implement the initiative. The Department of Education and Training is currently engaging with schools via a needs analysis questionnaire to determine their level of need and readiness to implement the initiative. This will help to inform the future roll-out plan.