The NSW Nationals in the state government have announced another 80 scholarships are on offer for a program that prioritises the well-being of students by putting qualified mental health professionals into schools.
The program brings graduates into the growing school counselling service, and supports teachers to reskill as counsellors.
The scholarships cover the cost of tuition fees up to $30,000, helping graduates and current staff bridge the cost barrier of studying. Recipients will also have a permanent job when they finish their studies.
There are three scholarships on offer: a training program for teachers to become a school counsellor; a program for psychology graduates to gain experience in schools; and a rural program for participants with an existing psychology qualification to work in rural and remote schools while completing their masters.
NSW Nationals Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the program successfully awarded 78 scholarships this year, with another 80 now on offer.
“School counsellors and psychologists are so important for our communities, especially during challenging periods like the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Mitchell said.
“We have committed to growing our school counselling service and thanks to scholarships like these we are on track to hire 160 graduates over the next two years. This is in addition to appointments made through our ongoing recruitment.”
NSW Nationals Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the counselling and wellbeing service in schools was an important pillar of support for young people.
“Initiatives in schools, like specialised training for teachers and additional wellbeing professionals such as our Wellbeing and Health In-Reach Nurses, are helping young people find the support they need and connect with community support options,” Mrs Taylor said.
“This is particularly important in our regional areas which is why the new rural training pathway for school psychologists is such welcome news.”
The school counselling service across NSW public schools currently comprises 1129 full time positions, with 97.7 per cent of positions filled.
Up to 300 people will be trained to join the school counselling workforce through the scholarship program between 2020 and 2023.
Applications for the school counsellor and school psychologist scholarships close on October 10.
Information and application details can be found on the NSW Department of Education website.