Gippsland East has three schools participating in the exciting Doctors in Secondary Schools Program – the first of its kind in Australia! Bairnsdale Secondary College, Sale College and Maffra Secondary College are part of a program reaching 100 schools across Victoria, which will see the participating schools partnering with their local doctors to ensure that students will have regular access to a doctor and the healthcare they need at school – before it affects their studies!

The program will oversee local doctors visiting schools up to one day a week, making sure that young people are getting the health support, treatment and professional advice they need to reach their full potential. Students are also able to receive referrals to specialists.

Every secondary school student who is enrolled at the participating schools will be able to access a GP, once they have provided the requisite consent, and students [and their parents/guardians/carers!] will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses for consultations with the doctor on school premises. Funding for this initiative will also deliver modern, fit-for-purpose examination rooms on school grounds where they are required, with $18 million budgeted for construction costs. $25.8 million has also has been calculated into the budget for staff and operational costs.

Half of the schools participating in this program are located in rural Victoria, where there are already significant challenges present when trying to access healthcare, and a further 25 are located around Melbourne’s urban fringe, hoping to help meet the growing demand for services as the demand increases with populating growth.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Education James Merlino announced on September 1 the schools that would be taking part in the project, which is to be rolled out progressively across the state from term one, 2017. “We know that young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – are the least likely to see a GP,” explained Daniel Andrews, “so putting doctors in schools will make sure these kids have the access to healthcare they need.”