The Tasmanian Liberal Government has a plan to secure Tasmania’s future, which is why we are focused on addressing barriers to education and learning.
Since coming to Government, we have extended 56 high schools to Years 11 and 12, in all regions of Tasmania; there are currently 35 education infrastructure projects currently in planning, design or construction around Tasmania; and we have prioritised boosting staff with 269 more FTEs teachers and 250 more FTE teacher assistants.
But there is always more to do.
Dealing with mental health issues in our schools requires a holistic, multi-facetted approach. We have already committed $81 million to deliver an extra 80 FTE professional Support Staff, including school psychologists, social workers, nurses, speech and language pathologists to support young people impacted by trauma.
Today the Tasmanian Government is pleased to announce that we are further strengthening supports already in place by upskilling all school health nurses with the latest Youth Mental Health First Aid training, commencing later this year.
This training will ensure our school nurses have the specialised skills to assist and support students with mental health issues until appropriate professional help is received or a situation resolved.
The Tasmanian Government will also fund online professional learning for the wellbeing lead teacher and Principal in every Government school, focused on student mental health and trauma-informed approaches from a teaching and learning perspective.
This will empower senior people in our schools to adapt and tailor classroom teaching accordingly to better support students with mental health challenges or who are impacted by trauma.
In addition, no female student should miss school because they don’t have access to basic requirements such as sanitary products. That’s why from Term 3 this year pads and tampons will be freely available in all Government schools.
In order to reflect levels of disadvantage in Tasmania, we will allocate $10 per annum for every female student between Year 5 and Year 12 who is currently receiving the Student Assistance Scheme (STAS).
While the program will be accessible to all students, using STAS as a measure to predict need is appropriate and will ensure that a lack of access to sanitary products at home is not a barrier for learning.
Last year the Tasmanian Government accepted a recommendation for Ogilvie and New Town high schools to become co-educational in 2022 as part of the City Schools partnership they have with Elizabeth College.
To meet essential infrastructure needs, the Government will provide $1.6 million for priority works ahead of the 2022 school year. An assessment of initial needs is underway, however urgent capital works are expected to include toilet facilities for males and females and the refurbishment of some Year 7 learning areas.
This investment is on top of $150,000 in the 2020-21 State Budget to develop an educational and infrastructure masterplan this year to guide medium and longer-term investment requirements.
Every young person regardless of background or circumstance deserves a quality education, and breaking down barriers to learning and ensuring equity of access will continue to be priorities as we focus on improving educational outcomes.