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If your child is still at school, it is important to talk to school staff about the difficulties that your child or family is experiencing. The school may be able to provide help for your family, particularly if they employ a school welfare officer, or they may be able to refer you to someone else. In any case, it is important for the school to know what is going on so that your child's teacher can be supportive of your child.

Please note that the structures and services described here apply to Victorian state secondary schools. If your child attends a Catholic, Islamic or other private school, check with the school what structures and services are in place.
1. Let your child's teachers know about any difficulties that your child may be experiencing so that they can provide their support.
2. Pastoral teachers and student welfare coordinators can refer young people to other staff or agencies as appropriate.
3. Most state schools have access to a social worker who can provide support regarding a range of needs and may refer the student or family to another specialist or agency.
4. Schools have access to educational psychologists, who can assess students' development and learning needs.

Pastoral Teacher

Schools have pastoral care systems, where particular teachers are responsible for overall care of certain students. They may be known as the pastoral or home group teacher. Often they teach a core subject to that class, such as English or Maths. If you are not sure who the pastoral or home group teacher is for your child, ask at the school office.

Make an appointment to see the pastoral teacher and explain your concerns. Ask for help, or tell them what you have organised. Talk about whether you prefer this information be kept totally confidential, or would like other teachers to be briefed.


It can also be a good idea to speak to someone with a co-ordinating role, such as the Year Level Co-ordinator, Assistant Principal or Student Welfare Co-ordinator.

Student Welfare Coordinator

Each secondary school usually has a Student Welfare Coordinator on staff. The Student Welfare Coordinator is a teacher responsible for overseeing and co-ordinating support provision in the school. They should have some training in providing welfare support to students. They usually provide some direct support and refer the young person to other staff or agencies as appropriate.

Social Worker Referral

Most state schools have access to a social worker (some schools may use the term 'Guidance Officer') who works across a cluster of primary and secondary schools. Social workers can provide support regarding a range of needs and may refer the student or family to another specialist or agency.

Educational Psychologist

Schools have access to an educational psychologist (some schools may use the term 'Guidance Officer'), who can assess students' development and learning needs including: cognitive, psychological and social development. School psychologists may do some counselling themselves and will refer on to other services when necessary.

School Nurse

A school nurse promotes health and wellbeing in the school community. They give support to individuals on health issues. They may also run groups or deliver health education workshops on topics such as social skills, sexuality, healthy eating or drug use.


Some schools also have chaplains. They provide pastoral care and guidance from a Christian perspective, for students, families and staff. Connecting people with appropriate services in the community is also part of the role.

Last updated: April 2006
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