| November 28, 2019

Primary School Nursing Program

Victorian Parliament - November 28, 2019 -  Ms KEALY (Lowan) (17:53:05): (1787) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, who I see is in the house, so I am very excited about this—he may not be. The action I seek is for the minister to immediately provide additional resources to the primary school nursing program (PSNP) so that all prep or foundation students in the Lowan electorate who have not yet had their school entrance screening can do so before the end of the year. I have been contacted by many schools across my electorate, particularly focused on the Wimmera region, who are deeply concerned that this year’s prep students have not had their health screening yet. My understanding is that the program is based out of Geelong and that there have been some problems with the staff in that area, but we have not had a school nurse come out to our region. This screening is an essential tool for early identification, diagnosis and referral for treatment for five- and six-year-olds, and I quote from the government’s own website: The PSNP is designed to identify children with potential health-related learning difficulties and to respond to parent/carer concerns and observations about their child’s health and wellbeing. Parents or carers complete the School Entrant Health Questionnaire … which is distributed during the first year of school. With parent/carer consent, follow-up health assessments are conducted by the school nurse as indicated. This is not occurring in the Lowan electorate, and that is something that really concerns me because we are missing out on identifying some of those key issues for our younger people. Whether it is around doing eye checks or making sure that if there are any hearing impairments or dental issues they get those addressed, they also often identify children on the spectrum or who have learning difficulties. If you can capture that in their first year of schooling, often you can then put enough strategies in place to make sure that they are not disadvantaged through the rest of their school career, and so it is particularly distressing to hear that this is not being delivered in far western Victoria. It is not the first time students of Lowan have missed out under Labor. There has been no doctor placed at Horsham College since the doctors in schools program was first announced, and to my knowledge the doctors in schools program has not been delivered to any school at all across the Lowan electorate—one-sixth of the state, about 60 schools in total. This simply is not good enough, particularly when you consider we have got a doctor shortage in our region. It is very, very difficult for students to access a GP through normal mechanisms, through their personal life, so we need to see that in place sooner rather than later. Then we look at the botched Warracknabeal Education Precinct, when the government walked away after completely bungling the project, building just a third of the special developmental school, meaning that they have had to cut back their specialist education programs. They have only got less than half the secondary college, meaning the students cannot relocate. We have got a science lab, the newest science lab in my electorate sitting idle and used as a storeroom rather than training our next generation of doctors, nurses, agronomists and research scientists. So while we are used to missing out when it comes to education under Labor, I urge the minister to urgently address this issue around the nurses in schools program to make sure that sufficient additional resources are provided. We have only got a couple of weeks left of school. Can the minister please make sure that the students in the Wimmera region have their school entrant testing done urgently.

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