Published in the Suns in April 1976. This for me is the number one need in our schools, especially Primary Schools.
GUIDANCE COUNSELLORS ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED
There is a desperate need for guidance counsellors to be appointed as staff members in ALL our schools. Mental health and well-being issues confronting young people demand that our system look at this as a number one priority. There are counsellors in some NT secondary schools but their main role is in the area of career guidance and vocational support. Secondary schools also have school nurses to whom students can talk. However, for the most part they are more focussed on physical well-being and social issues rather than mental health matters. No counsellors are appointed as primary school staff members.
With scrutiny of school staffing numbers under constant review, it is hardly likely that the issue is going to be addressed. However ignoring the matter, is overlooking one of the deepest seated issues of student need.
With scrutiny of school staffing numbers under constant review, it is hardly likely that this going to be addressed. However ignoring the matter, is overlooking one of the deepest seated student student needs.
Needs Not Met
The issue is one that has always been problematic. In 2003, a group of principals from around the NT met with s Education Minister Syd Stirling and told him that the need for counselling support was the number one priority confronting Northern Territory schools. That assertion was based on a survey response. The department then advertised for Well Being Teachers (WBT’s) with counselling qualifications. These teachers were engaged to support each region and work with schools on a rotational basis.
Counselling priorities for some schools were partially met while other schools missed out altogether. It soon became apparent that a well being teacher with responsibility for up to 12 schools would simply tinker at the edges of student needs. There was insufficient time for personal counselling.
The well being teacher concept was temporary. Some positions never filled. Others were vacated as incumbents applied for and won other jobs and were not replaced. Within a relatively short period of time, the program became history.
Why Primary Schools?
Issues confronting children become apparentA from a very early age. Yet it is considered that counselling is not really necessary until students reach their secondary years. This position is so wrong. Problems confronting younger children can be deep seated and unsettling. To leave them untreated will impact on developing student behaviours and attitudes. Problems and concerns confronting them, becoming an ingrained part of behaviour and attitude. One in five young people are stressed and depressed and that percentage is growing all the time. It is far better that concerns are addressed and nipped in the bud before they become insurmountable. That will not happen unless and until counsellors are appointed as staff members in our schools. This need is long overdue.