Students at Wodonga Senior Secondary College will be able to see a doctor during school hours when a new initiative is introduced during term 3.
The school was one of four on the Border and 100 across Victoria to be chosen for the state government’s $43.8 million Doctors in Secondary Schools Program.
Cabinet secretary Mary-Anne Thomas visited Wodonga on Friday for a tour of the school’s wellbeing centre, where a room has been developed into a doctor’s surgery.
She supported the ability for students to see a doctor themselves, without going through their parents or family practitioner, saying the GP would recommend discussing any issues with family if it was necessary.
“I wish we had a program like that when I was at school … Young people are the group least likely to visit the doctor of all age groups,” Ms Thomas said.
“We all know that adolescence is a really tough time and all sorts of changes are happening. Teenagers are quite susceptible to depression and anxiety.”
Principal Vern Hilditch said the locally-based doctors, who will visit once per week, were due to start on the first day of term 3.
“It’s important to note we’re not choosing the doctors, they’re being appointed by the Primary Health Network,” he said.
They will be have the same responsibilities as a GP at an outside doctor’s surgery, with the ability to write prescriptions, assess sporting injuries and develop mental health plans.
The school-based doctor meant students did not have to take time off school, or their parents time off work, to seek medical assistance.
“We made sure we awarded the program to school that would be able to maximize it,” Ms Thomas said.
“We need students to be fit and healthy in order to be the best learners they can be.”
The cabinet secretary was a former student of Wodonga Senior Secondary College – her parents still live in the North East – and Friday marked the first time she had returned to her former school.
“I’m always happy to be back here in Wodonga,” she said.
“I have not been back here since muck-up day 1980 – I have to tell you I was very well behaved.”