Department program

Doctors in Secondary Schools

This initiative funds general practitioners (GPs) to attend up to 100 Victorian government secondary schools up to one day a week. The GPs provide medical advice and health care to those students most in need.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • make primary health care more accessible to students
  • provide assistance to young people to identify and address any health problems early
  • reduce the pressure on working parents.

We have engaged Victoria’s six Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to lead the engagement of medical centres, GPs and practice nurses (PNs) to work in the program in select secondary schools across metro and non-metro Victoria.

All secondary school students enrolled in a participating school will be able to access an adolescent-health trained GP, subject to providing the required consent for the services. Participating schools, students and their parents/carers will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses for student consultations with the GP.

Participating schools will receive funding to enable their staff to support program coordination and training.

The program will make a valuable contribution to achieving the Education State targets of 'happy, healthy and resilient kids' by improving ease of access to health services for young people.

How secondary schools were selected

There were 166 Victorian government secondary schools invited to lodge an application. Schools with the highest student family occupation and educationindex were targeted, with consideration also given to schools in areas with limited access to a GP.

There were 135 applications received. Each application was evaluated based on the schools' responses to key selection criteria, with schools asked to demonstrate the specific health and wellbeing needs of their student population, their capacity and willingness to build community relationships and their long-term commitment to student health and wellbeing.

Consent and confidentiality policy

The program’s consent and confidentiality policy was developed in consultation with experts including: the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Education Union, Parents Victoria and the Victorian Association of Secondary School Principals.

Consistent with Australian common law, the program recognises that:

  • any student who wants to see the GP will be permitted to book an appointment
  • the GP will decide whether the young person is mature enough to consent to medical treatment or whether parent/carer consent is needed - as is the case with all GPs in the community
  • the right for a young person’s health information to be kept confidential will be respected unless the disclosure is with the consent of the young person or it is otherwise permitted by law – as is the case with all GP practice in the community

Families with children at participating schools will be informed about the program at the start of the year, with detailed fact sheets.

Timeline

The program has a phased rollout. The first 20 schools commenced participation in the first half of 2017, a further 40 from Term 3, 2017, and the final 40 from Term 1, 2018.

The program is being rolled out progressively around the state from the first half of 2017. In selecting the first 20 schools to participate in the program, priority has been given to those schools that scored highly in the expression of interest process and who had an existing partnership with a local health service to provide a GP. Consideration has also been given to ensuring geographic spread, metro/regional/rural distribution and coverage across each of the six Primary Health Networks.

How general practices can get involved

General practices interested in becoming part of the program can contact their local Primary Health Network (PHN) to get further information on the process for becoming involved. 

The role of PHNs is to:

  • engage local medical centres to engage, manage and monitor GPs and practice nurses in their catchment
  • support participating GP and PN training and ongoing professional development to help ensure a youth-friendly service is being provided
  • promoting best practice care by integrating GPs and PNs in school clinics, with community-based primary care services
  • facilitating GPs and PNs' training and ongoing professional development.

Requirements for medical centres, general practitioners and practice nurses

Medical centres

Interested medical centres are required to be accredited against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practice

Accredited practices or those registered for accreditation are encouraged to apply. Practices are required to provide bulk billing services for students, have a medical software program and have, or are willing to have a clinical audit tool installed to record and report data.

GPs and PNs will be expected to undertake online and face-to-face training in adolescent health.

General practitioners

The program requires GPs:

  • with a medical degree and licence to practice in Australia
  • to have an Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) registration with no restriction on scope of practice  
  • who have experience working in a multi-disciplinary team

Experience in child and adolescent health, mental health and drug and alcohol services is desirable.

Practice nurse

The program is also seeking practice nurses (qualified and registered as division 1), with an AHPRA registration and no restrictions on scope of practice in Australia. The Department is interested in nurses who have competency and experience in adolescent health and development, primary health care, community health, mental health, public health and/or health promotion.

These nurses will need to be employed by a medical clinic engaged by the relevant PHN.

Express your interest

To find out more or to express your interest in providing a GP and PN for a school in your area, please contact:

If you don't know which PHN your practice falls under, please refer to the PHN Map locator: Primary Health Network map locator