School health services
The school health service
The school health service aims to promote healthy development and wellbeing so students may reach their full potential.
The service is jointly planned and provided by the Department of Health and the Department of Education. The school health service team includes community health nurses and other health professionals.
A community health nurse usually visits the school and acts as a point of contact for students. In large secondary schools a community health nurse may be based at the school.
Allied health professionals in the community health team may also be involved with programs that are run in the school.
What services are available?
Students are better prepared for learning when they are healthy, safe and happy.
The school health service staff can:
- provide information and support to students (and their families) to help them make informed decisions about their health, wellbeing and development
- carry out health assessments for vision, hearing and general development issues
- if required, refer students to another health professional within the school health service or to other agencies for further assessment, tests, diagnosis, treatment or therapy
- plan and deliver school immunisation programs
- work with teachers to support health education sessions
- run student health and wellbeing programs
- help school staff and parents to develop health care plans for students with special needs (for example chronic disease, physical disability or other complex health conditions)
- offer parenting advice
- provide an easy first point of contact to health care for students.
The school health service is a free and confidential service.
Emergency situations requiring an ambulance
Parents are advised to have ambulance insurance, as an ambulance will be called for your child in an emergency situation, if deemed necessary.
How to access the school health service
If you have a concern about your child’s health, you can make contact with the community health nurse through your child’s teacher or the school administration.
In secondary schools, a student may make their own appointment or just drop in during advertised health centre opening times (for example lunch time, before or after school).
Parents are encouraged to contact the school health service team to discuss any concerns about their child’s health or development.
Services specific to primary schools
All children are offered a health assessment before the end of their first year of primary school. The community health nurse will seek consent and gain valuable knowledge from parents about their child's development prior to conducting assessments of hearing and vision and, if needed, speech, language and general development assessment.
If you or your child’s teacher have specific concerns at any point throughout primary school, an assessment can be conducted.
Parental consent is sought prior to assessments.
Parents are advised of assessment results and recommended action or referral.
Services tailored for adolescent students
School health services are an easy access point to health care for students.
The school health service team may carry out health assessments and provide information, advice, referrals and support for students. The support encourages development of knowledge, skills and behaviour, and encourages the young person to deal with their health issue(s) and make healthy lifestyle choices.
Individual students can seek information, guidance and support about a range of issues that may include:
- coping with illness
- culture or racism issues
- feeling anxious, stressed or unhappy
- healthy eating and nutrition
- healthy weight and body image
- mental health and wellbeing
- loss and grief
- problems at home
- sexual health
- smoking, alcohol and drug use
- other adolescent health concerns.
There may be times when the school health service team need to share information with parents or guardians or certain others in the school community, to provide support and care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the young person.
The school health service team encourage and support young people to talk to their parents or guardian about significant health issues.
Getting the right help
It is important to get the right information, from the right person, at the right time. Being informed helps students and/or parents make better choices.
As well as providing students and families with information and support, the school health team can also help provide links with other relevant services. These might include:
- local doctor
- community health centre
- psychologist or youth counsellor
- alcohol and drug counsellor
- sexual health service
- dentist or school dental service
- school chaplain
- culturally specific services.
Concerned about your child’s health and/or development?
Your school health service may be able to help.
Child and Adolescent Community Health
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.