Team­ing around the Prin­ci­pal

The Australian Education Reporter - - NEWS - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

HEALTHY and happy prin­ci­pals cre­ate pos­i­tive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments, which is why the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment has ear­marked $5.2 mil­lion for a new pro­gram to en­sure school lead­ers get the sup­port they need.

The newly launched Prin­ci­pal Health and Well­be­ing Strat­egy 2018 – 2021 com­prises a suite of new pro­grams and re­sources pro­mot­ing im­proved men­tal and phys­i­cal health in the State’s 3000 Govern­ment prin­ci­pals and as­sis­tant prin­ci­pals.

The 2017 Aus­tralian Prin­ci­pal Oc­cu­pa­tional Health, Safety and Well­be­ing Sur­vey found prin­ci­pals re­port­edly ex­pe­ri­enced stress symp­toms and emo­tional de­mands 1.7 per cent higher than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, and de­pres­sive symp­toms 1.3 per cent higher.

2.9 per cent of re­spon­dents re­ported thoughts of self-harm of­ten or all the time.

“We have lis­tened to your valuable feed­back and de­signed an in­te­grated frame­work of ini­tia­tives and practical re­sources that re­flect con­tem­po­rary re­search and re­spond to the spe­cific needs of the pro­fes­sion,” Vic­to­rian Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing sec­re­tary Gill Cal­lis­ter said.

“The Strat­egy places prin­ci­pals at the cen­tre of these practical ini­tia­tives and aims to pro­vide more di­rect sup­port for them.”

Ms Cal­lis­ter said the strat­egy in­cludes seven pi­lot ini­tia­tives.

The first in­cluded a new on­line School Pol­icy Tem­plates Por­tal to re­duce ad­min­is­tra­tive work­load by stream­lin­ing the process of cre­at­ing school-level poli­cies on top­ics such as bul­ly­ing, school uni­forms, and ana­phy­laxis.

An early in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram would al­low prin­ci­pals to con­fi­den­tially ac­cess health providers, and a new men­tor­ing pro­gram paired prin­ci­pals with peers for ad­vice and sup­port.

The Govern­ment said more than 180 prin­ci­pals had al­ready ac­cessed the strat­egy’s free and con­fi­den­tial health checks.

Vic­to­rian Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter James Mer­lino said school lead­ers worked “in­cred­i­bly hard” to give Vic­to­rian kids a great ed­u­ca­tion.

“This is all about de­vel­op­ing ef­fec­tive ev­i­dence-based pro­grams, sup­port struc­tures and re­sources that help them stay healthy and happy in the job,” Mr Mer­lino said.

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