Shepparton paediatrician Dr Peter Eastaugh does free clinics at three primary schools to diagnose and treat children's behavioural problems.JOHN LEWIS March 11, 2014 4:55am
In a disturbing indictment of our public health system, a Shepparton paediatrician says hundreds of Goulburn Valley children are waiting for a clinical diagnosis of developmental and behavioural problems displayed at school.
After being referred to a psychologist by a general practitioner, the children and their families sit on waiting lists for months, with as many as 50 per cent not bothering to turn up for appointments.
For the past year, Dr Peter Eastaugh has been trying to break the deadlock by bringing therapeutic treatment to children where it matters most — in schools.
Dr Eastaugh said there was a 100 per cent attendance rate at his morning clinics because when parents dropped their children off at school they could go straight into a consultation.
By offering his services for free, Dr Eastaugh said he was trying to save what could be a fourth generation of children lost to the trauma of illness, alcohol, drugs, violence or the random savagery of the world.
Dr Eastaugh said his new ‘‘direct action’’ model of school paediatric clinics had the potential to revolutionise the way children with behavioural problems were diagnosed and treated.
At his suggestion, non-teaching staff at the three schools were being trained in ‘‘sand play’’ therapy.
The process involved traumatised children using imaginative play to work through their problems under close observation.
One school principal said the clinics had brought a ‘‘Pandora’s box’’ of issues out into the open that needed to be addressed.
Dr Eastaugh said he was gathering statistical evidence to show school clinics worked.
The Department of Education does not recognise his clinics and, more importantly, does not fund them.
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