Students at Healesville High School can see a doctor free within a dedicated clinic located in the school, as part of the Victorian Government’s Doctors in Secondary Schools program.
The school is one of 12 throughout Eastern Melbourne PHN’s (EMPHN) catchment to benefit from the Victorian Department of Education and Training’s Doctors in Secondary Schools program, run in partnership with Victoria’s six PHNs.
EMPHN CEO, Robin Whyte, said the Doctors in Secondary Schools program aims to make health care more accessible to students during what can be a particularly challenging and stressful time of their lives.
“Identifying and addressing health issues early before they affect their studies, and building trust and rapport between young people and GPs, makes for a smoother transition form young person to adult,” she said.
Healesville High School principal, Allan Rennick, said the clinic will contribute to the school’s existing student wellbeing programs to help increase health literacy and preventive health.
“It will help students to take responsibility for their own health and will equip them with adequate tools for later life,” he said.
The school is partnering with Get Well Clinic in Healesville, and doctors and a nurse from the clinic will visit the school for up to one day a week.
Get Well Clinic has also been operating a weekly clinic within Upper Yarra Secondary College since June.
Get Well Clinic clinical director, Dr Khoi Bui, said he's well aware that young people today face many challenges and access to medical care and counselling is often difficult for them due to transport, finance, time and family issues.
“We are particularly attuned to the health needs of young people, and delighted to be involved in delivering care from within the educational environment,” he said.
“This will, we anticipate, allow a far more effective penetration of community health messages and initiatives at an early age.”
“We hope to meet the immediate health care needs of students, but also to help them develop attitudes and knowledge that will help them to make healthier choices and live healthier lives.”
The 2016/17 Victorian Budget provided $43.8 million for Doctors in Secondary Schools. Under the program $25.8 million will go to recruiting and training GPs as well as staffing and operational costs, while a further $18 million to build modern clinical facilities on the school grounds.
EMPHN works to improve the wellbeing of its community, particularly for those at risk of poor health outcomes, by improving coordination of care and ensuring patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. EMPHN works across an area of 3,956 km² comprising a population of more than 1.5 million people. www.emphn.org.au