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Welfare officers to help local students

Local principals are praising a move by the Victorian Government to appoint welfare officers at Katunga, Strathmerton, Tungamah, Wahgunyah and Yarrawonga schools.

RANDALL JOHNSTON February 14, 2013 4:12am

Local principals are praising a move by the Victorian Government to appoint welfare officers at Katunga, Strathmerton, Tungamah, Wahgunyah and Yarrawonga schools.

Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon has confirmed the Murray Valley schools are among 90 primary schools across Victoria to get welfare officers.

Katunga Primary School principal Chris McCallum said any support services the government could provide would be well received.

‘‘Although no information has come to us about what happens next, there is a growing need generally — because there have been so many State Government cuts to school funding,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s certainly going to be more difficult for a number of families.’’

Mr McCallum said there was ‘‘certainly a need’’ for a welfare officer to help students and families in the area.

‘‘There are certainly areas of need for welfare officers in this district. Any assistance we can get, either in the form of support staff or funding, is a good thing.

‘‘We have had programs in place to address bullying for a number of years,’’ he said.

Mr McCallum said it was important to teach students to have courtesy, respect and to take responsibility for their own actions and how they impact on others.

Strathmerton Primary School principal Marc Barker agreed the appointment of a welfare officer was a positive step in the right direction, but was curious as to how it would be rolled out.

‘‘It will be interesting to see how it will work and how many officers we will get,’’ Mr Barker said.

‘‘Welfare has definitely become more of a primary focus (in recent years) to make sure kids have everything they need to function at school.

‘‘Having educational support for parents is a good thing, too.

‘‘For anything like this to work, you really need the students, parents and the school on board for it to work effectively.’’

State Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy said the appointment of welfare officers was part of a $124million government commitment to help stamp out bullying and provide additional support to students and families.

The government has promised to recruit 150 welfare officers by 2014.

Bullying is an issue Mr McCurdy has taken a keen interest in, acknowledging he was bullied at school and saying the memories never leave you.

‘‘This is a great result for Murray Valley schools, providing extra support to help students stay in school and achieve their potential,’’ he said.

The officers will provide support to students experiencing issues which may be affecting their health, behaviour and wellbeing.

They will also help student engagement, promote school attendance and develop positive school cultures and work with the school community, parents and students, support staff and community agencies.

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