Gillies St Main Campus & Farm/Senior Campus: - Phone (03) 5334 1302


Ballarat Specialist School is committed to advocating for and enhancing the wellbeing of our students and families, and to supporting our school as a mentally healthy community. Our school provides an integrated and comprehensive whole school approach to wellbeing, delivering student-centred supports across a three-tiered model that aims to strengthen each student’s personal, physical, learning, social, and emotional development. All staff within our school acknowledge the significance of resilience and wellbeing, and understand they are essential for both learning and skill growth, as well as social development.

Our whole school approach to wellbeing provides the foundation for a safe and supportive school where all school members feel a sense of belonging, are valued, respected and free from discrimination and harassment. Positive relationships are regarded as the key to students feeling safe, valued and accepted by all members of the school community.

Our Wellbeing Team sits within the school’s Integrated Services Team (IST). The IST offers a multi-disciplinary and child-centred approach for students with high support needs. It comprises the Allied Health Team, Engagement Team and Wellbeing Team. Our team members collaborate with classroom staff and broader school community to offer integrated and coordinated supports based on a student’s individual needs.

Wellbeing Team Purpose

The role of our Wellbeing Team is to support the diverse wellbeing, mental health and welfare needs of our students, and to promote positive mental health throughout the school community.
Our team members are passionate about the equity, diversity and inclusion of young people in a world which can be difficult for them to navigate. This passion drives our commitment to ensuring that all students are provided with the support required to improve their overall wellbeing and optimise their education.

Wellbeing Team Roles

Our wellbeing team comprises:

Team Leader/Psychologist Kate Thomas

Psychologists in schools provide a child and adolescent psychological service and work with the school community to support students and families, with the aim of facilitating access, participation and to maximise educational outcomes for students.

Student Welfare Officers Sarah Falla and Chris Lees

Student Welfare Officers support and advocate on behalf of young people facing wellbeing, developmental, social and protection issues. SWO’s may work with young people on an individual or group basis, offering practical and emotional support and helping them to develop skills to make positive changes in their lives. SWO’s can provide basic counselling, intervention and risk assessments, in an effort to understand the student and their needs, and may support the family to refer the young person to other professional services when the issues are complex or specific. SWO’s will also work to support families during times of hardship, to access community and financial supports.

Wellbeing Education Support Jenn Jarmain

The role of our Wellbeing Education Support staff is to support the work of the Wellbeing Team in delivery wellbeing and welfare services for students and families. In particular, to support attendance improvement plans, group programs and family welfare support.

Mental Health Practitioner Rhiannon Speechley

MHPs work to limit any mental health related barriers to student’s participation and engagement in their learning. MHPs also play a key role in promoting mental health literacy across the school and building the capability of school staff to recognise and appropriately respond to student’s mental health and wellbeing concerns.

Wellbeing Team Services

The members of the Wellbeing Team are experienced in a range of areas and are passionate about helping students navigate their way through the various social and emotional challenges they may face. These challenges may include:

  • Social difficulties
  • Emotional challenges and mental health
  • Learning needs
  • Family challenges, including family break-up
  • Grief and loss
  • Attendance improvement and school refusal
  • Risk-taking behaviours
  • Child safety concerns

Key programs and interventions offered by the Wellbeing Team include:

  • Individual counselling for students - One to one counselling support provides a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space for your young person to talk about social, emotional or relationship difficulties, concerns, worries or issues that might be causing them distress.
  • Positive mental health promotion and implementation of school-wide programs relevant to student wellbeing.
  • Group programs for wellbeing promotion and psychoeducation – Drumbeat, Seasons for Growth, programs targeting anxiety, stress, change, social skills.
  • Student Support Group facilitation for students who live in statutory out-of-home care, including liaising with support and care agencies.
  • Referral to external support services and specialist assessment/treatment services.
  • Support for student and family welfare needs (books, uniform, food relief, access to family support services etc.).
  • Re-connection, return to school and attendance improvement support: Support for students and families in reconnecting with school/learning and improving attendance at school. Supporting students to manage their anxiety, develop positive coping skills, and access mental health and family supports during these transitions.

Supports are delivered by the Wellbeing Team across three tiers of need and prioritisation.

Tier 3 Individualised, intensive supports (e.g. individual counselling sessions, attendance improvement plans, family crisis support, and child safety matters) 
Tier 2 Targeted, supplemented supports through group programming or adapted timetabling (including Drumbeat, Seasons for Growth, Burron Guli, mental health/wellbeing group programs)
Tier 1 Whole school wellbeing initiatives, may be integrated into the curriculum and classroom (including Pride group, Marrung, Mental Health promotion)


It is important to note that the school is not a clinical setting. Students who present with moderate to severe mental health concerns, or where there are issues requiring family therapy, will be supported to access specialised mental health services within the community.

Wellbeing Programs

The Wellbeing Team and school staff facilitate and/or support a range of proactive, preventative and early intervention programs across the school. Below are examples of some of the health, wellbeing and inclusion programs scheduled during the year.

  • State Schools’ Relief (SSR) - Issues such as poverty, neglect, family illness, abuse and homelessness continue to affect many Victorian families. SSR provides government school students with new uniforms, footwear and educational resources, including learning devices. We work side by side with all Victorian primary, secondary, specialist and language schools to ensure that any students facing hardship have the necessary items they require for school.
  • In-school food relief – providing fruit, snacks and lunches for students when families are experiencing hardship.
  • Family food relief – sending food packages home to families during times that they are experiencing hardship.
  • Pride Groups - To raise awareness and support for sexual and gender diversity and inclusiveness in the school community.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Promotion Days – To promote mental health and wellbeing and have fun participating in activities and spreading awareness.
  • R U OK? Day – To raise awareness of engaging in regular and meaningful conversations with others.

Referral to the Wellbeing Team

Referrals for wellbeing support can be made by teachers, parents/carers or students. Parents/carers can contact their child’s teacher, or a member of the wellbeing team by contacting the school on ph. 5334 1302.
Students can self-refer to the Student Wellbeing Team by visiting the wellbeing Room at the FARM campus, or talking to a member of staff at either campus who will support them to contact the wellbeing team.
In some instances, a student may be referred to an external support service. We also respect the fact that some students and parents may prefer to seek professional support independent from the school setting. In such cases, the Wellbeing Team values working collaboratively with external services. In all cases, we encourage parents to communicate with the school if there is a significant issue affecting their child’s health or wellbeing.

Wellbeing Partnerships


Our school works closely with the DET Koorie Education Team. The main goal of the Koorie Education Team in central highlands is to work with schools, early years’ providers, families, family services, the Koorie community and relevant DET (Department of Education and Training) teams to improve outcomes for Koorie children and young people. The work of the Koorie Education Team is underpinned and driven by the Marrung Plan (Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan 2016 – 2026).

Our Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO) is Darlene Rumler. Meet Darlene: I am a proud Ngiyampaa, Paakantij woman and I am a very proud mother as well as a loving Nan to some loveable little munchkins. I have been working in education for the past 14 years, in particular Koorie education for 10 of those years, from early childhood to schools. I believe that - Knowledge is power= Education, is the key to unlocking that knowledge which continues on to lifelong learning. Be proud of your culture! It is not a barrier to your aspirations, dreams and achievement, but it is the essence of who you are and the qualities that you have as a person.
Our KESO works with us on five key work priorities closely aligned with the implementation of the Marrung Plan: 1. Attendance & Participation 2. Community Engagement & Communication 3. Cultural Inclusion 4. Curriculum & Programming 5. Support children & young people at risk.


LOOKOUT centres are designed to boost the capacity of schools, carers, child protection practitioners and out-of-home care services to improve educational outcomes for children and young people living in out-of-home care. LOOKOUT centres focus on professional development, advocacy, and expert advice and support to build the capability of professionals who work with children and young people in care, making sure that education is at the centre of decisions made about their care, placement and future.

Community and Agency Links

At Ballarat Specialist School the Wellbeing Team works closely with local agencies and service providers to support students and their families with concerns regarding mental health and wellbeing, parenting support, housing, substance use issues, financial support, advocacy, etc. Local agencies and service providers include:

  • Cafs 1800 692 237
  • Ballarat Health Services - Mental Health Services 1300 247 647
  • Ballarat Community Health (03) 5338 4500
  • Headspace Ballarat office (03) 5304 4777
  • Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BADAC) – (03) 5331 5344
  • Koorie Services Hub (03) 4308 0781
welbeing logo orange door  The Orange Door Network provides access to support and services for people at risk, including for family and domestic violence or abuse, and for families needing extra support with the wellbeing and development of children. PH. 1800 219 819
welbeing logo carer gateway

The Carer Gateway offers free, early intervention support to carers. Carers can access over-the-phone and in-person support including: coaching, counselling, peer support, information and advice, online groups and courses, crisis and emergency support. Anyone caring for a family member or friend with a disability, mental illness, who is frail, aged, or has a chronic condition may be eligible for support. Call 1800 422 737 or visit
24 Hour Support Numbers and Resources for young people, families and carers

  • Police / Fire / Ambulance 000
  • DHS Child Protection Southern Region Intake (Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm) 1300 655 795
  • DHS Child Protection (After Hours) 131 278
  • Directline 24 hr drug/alcohol info 1800 888 236
  • Family Drug Help Line 1300 660 068
  • Family Violence Service ‘Safe Steps’ 1800 015 188
  • Grief Line 12 noon-3 am 1300 845 745
  • Psychiatric Triage Team – Mental health issues - For 24-hours assistance, phone Grampians Area Mental Health Service, Access and Triage Team 1300 247 647.

Click or tap on a logo to visit their website to find out more.

welbeing logo asklzzy Ask Izzy is a mobile website that connects people who are in crisis with the services they need right now and nearby.
welbeing logo headspace eHeadspace provides online and telephone support and counselling to young people 12 – 25 and their families and friends. If you’re based in Australia and going through a tough time, eheadspace can help.
welbeing logo kids helpline Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) - Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia.
welbeing logo lifeline

Lifeline Australia (13 11 14) - 24 Hr Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention Service


Useful Links to Wellbeing Information