NSW Nationals Education Minister Sarah Mitchell

Students, parents and teachers are getting more support thanks to the NSW Nationals in the state government.

Families and young children in NSW will benefit from an extra year of free preschool with the NSW Nationals in the state government announcing funding for community and mobile preschools in 2021.

The NSW Nationals in the state government have also launched a new online Mental Health Hub to deliver easily accessible mental health advice and support for students, parents and teachers.

NSW Nationals Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the Mental Health Hub had been developed to ensure advice was available to anyone who needed it, at any time.

“Mental health support for our students has to be varied and accessible for everyone,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We know that overwhelmingly students do their own research before they reach out for help, so we need to make sure that information is accessible and designed for our school communities.

NSW Nationals Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the Mental Health Hub will be a useful toolkit for students, parents and teachers.

“The hub has some really practical resources, from tips on how to start a conversation with someone doing it tough to finding ways to improve their own mental fitness,” Mrs Taylor said.

The website is broken down into three categories; information for parents, information for teachers and information for students.

“The hub has been designed for everyone in the school community, I encourage anyone who has questions, is stressed or wants to know how to support people in their lives,” Ms Mitchell said.

The site can be accessed by teachers, parents and students across every school sector, including independent and catholic schools, and has had input from leading mental health advocacy groups, including ReachOut, headspace, Kids Helpline and Beyond Blue.

Free preschool

Ms Mitchell also announced a $120 million commitment for preschool funding, which will help more than 44,000 three to five-year-olds attending community preschool.

The free preschool program has been supporting families since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this funding will provide certainty for parents into the future and help ease hip pocket pressure.

The funding will provide up to 15 hours of free care per child each week and will allow many parents to continue working, and support them to divert family income into other essentials.

Ms Mitchell said even during the toughest times, education was the top priority.

“Early childhood education is so important, especially in those critical two years before school,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Families will have certainty moving into 2021, knowing that regardless of their situation their child will be able to continue with their preschool education.”

This funding will be made available to approximately 700 state-funded community preschools and 38 mobile preschool services that provide care for over 44,000 three to five year olds in the critical years before school.