Education Minister James Merlino visited Eaglehawk Secondary College on Thursday to announce the school would be one of the next cohorts taking part in the state government’s doctors in secondary schools program.
Eaglehawk will be one of 40 schools to join the program from term three this year, with another 40 schools to come on board by the start of 2018, on top of the original 20 announced in October.
The consent is exactly the same as if that young person was visiting their GP in the local community.James Merlino
Participating schools will be partnered with local doctors who will visit up to one day a week, giving students the support they need early on before health problems affect their studies – including referrals to specialists.
Eaglehawk principal Noel Claridge said the measure was long overdue, with demand for student medical services consistent during his 35 years as an educator.
“Students who come into the sick bay and require a higher level of medical attention than we can provide with a level two workplace first aid certificate – I would suggest that’s been evident in schools for 35 years,” he said.
“It’s only now that we’re starting to see that school’s provide a lot more than education outcomes, they provide health outcomes for kids as well and if kids are happy and healthy then naturally they will be more successful in their school environment.”
Mr Merlino was quick to allay fears around privacy and consent when students were accessing medical services without their parents’ knowledge, saying there had been “a lot” of consultation with parents and schools prior to the rollout of the program.
“The consent is exactly the same as if that young person was visiting their GP in the local community,” he said.
“If a GP assesses the young person as a mature minor, the young person can provide consent, if it’s the GP’s opinion that young person isn’t mature then the GP would require consent from the parent or carer, so it’s important for people to know and understand that GPs in schools will operate in excatly the same way as your local GP in your local community.”