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Department of Education, Training and Employment
A guide to state schools >

Student health and wellbeing

Smart Choices

In January 2007 the implementation of Smart Choices - the Healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy for Queensland Schools became mandatory in all Queensland state schools.

This strategy is all about offering healthy food and drink choices to students in Queensland state schools.

The Queensland Government is committed to developing initiatives to combat levels of overweight and obesity in children and young people. The school setting has been identified as a critical location to assist in addressing this issue.

Smart Choices applies to all situations where food and drinks are supplied in the school environment. This includes tuckshops, vending machines, school excursions, school camps, fundraising, rewards for students, school events, and food used in curriculum activities.

For the latest information on Smart choices visit the School Health and Wellbeing initiatives website.

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Physical activity in state schools

Education Queensland recognises the importance of physical activity in the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Engaging in regular physical activity of at least moderate intensity is part of a healthy and active lifestyle. The Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines External Link recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for children aged 5 to 18 years.

Schools have an important role in supporting student participation in quality physical activity.

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School Based Youth Health Nurse Program

School Based youth health nurses are funded by Queensland Health and provide the opportunity for all state secondary students, their parents and members of the school community to access a health professional.

The role of school based youth health nurses is to work collaboratively with their school communities and other services and agencies to promote health and wellbeing, and address contemporary health and social issues impacting on the health and wellbeing of young people. School based youth health nurses also provide confidential consultations and student involvement is voluntary.

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Religious instruction

Religious instruction in state schools is conducted under the provisions of the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006. Students are allocated to a program of religious instruction in accordance with information given by a parent or carer on enrolment.

A number of religions, denominations or societies (faith groups) deliver religious instruction in state schools. The faith groups that deliver religious instruction in a state school will refl ect the school community.

Faith groups can deliver religious instruction as a separate arrangement or join with others in a cooperative arrangement. Classes are taught by instructors from the faith groups using a curriculum authorised by relevant faith groups.

Parents can withdraw their children from religious instruction by informing the school in writing. The school provides an alternative program in another location for students who do not attend religious instruction.

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Disadvantaged students and students at risk of disengaging from education

Managing student absences

A parent of a child of compulsory school age is obliged to ensure that their child attends school on every school day for the educational program in which he/she is enrolled. A parent of a young person in the compulsory participation phase is obliged to ensure that the young person is participating full-time in an approved education or training option.

The duration and location of a student's educational program is determined by the school and may include sites other than the school site, for example, sporting grounds, museums or TAFE. Any time during which a student is not attending or participating in their educational program is considered an absence and requires explanation.

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Student protection

Because of their regular contact with students and families, staff in schools play a vital role in:

The Department of Education, Training and Employment is committed to providing safe, supportive and disciplined learning environments, preventing reasonably foreseeable harm to students and responding when an employee reasonably suspects harm or risk of harm to students.

All employees and visitors to a state school have a responsibility to respond when they suspect a student, or an unborn child, has been harmed or is at risk of harm. Some employees also have a responsibility to comply with legislative reporting obligations.

For further information you can refer to the:

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Supporting students in out-of-home care

For students in out-of-home care, learning and achieving good educational outcomes can be extremely challenging. Experiences of abuse and neglect, trauma, disrupted attachments, removal from family and placement changes can impact negatively on their functioning. Research shows that children in out-of-home care often experience poor educational and life outcomes compared to other same age children.

The Students in Out-of-Home Care Policy Statement and associated departmental resources reflect the department's commitment to achieving better educational outcomes for students in out-of-home care in partnership with officers from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.

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Guidance and counselling services

Guidance and counselling services are provided directly to students and their families and are available at all Queensland state schools or education programs.

Guidance and counselling services focus on assisting students to achieve to their potential in the most appropriate educational setting. Guidance officers identify factors that can be barriers to learning and development, and plan or assist in planning interventions or programs that can help students achieve positive outcomes.

Guidance officers may work directly with the student or with the student's teachers, support personnel, family, other specialists, or professionals from other agencies depending on the issues to be resolved and the age of the student. Depending on the student's age, a range of issues may be supported by guidance officers including personal and social development, diverse learning styles and needs, and educational and career pathways.

Guidance officers, while respecting student privacy and confidentiality, work as members of a support team and are committed to providing quality education services for every young Queenslander regardless of their circumstances.

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Chaplaincy/student welfare services

Chaplaincy/student welfare services are optional and provide students and staff with social, emotional and spiritual support; provide an additional adult role model in the school and enhance engagement with the broader community including parents.

The Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Services policy statement and supporting documents provide assistance for schools implementing a chaplaincy/student welfare service (paid or voluntary).

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Community education counsellors

Counsellors work closely with guidance officers and their local communities, and provide a significant service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. More than 100 community education counsellors are located generally in schools with signifi cant numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as well as in clusters of schools throughout the state.

District community education counsellors advocate on behalf of students where a community education counsellor is not available. Parents can contact the school or local district office for further information.

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Youth Support Coordinator Initiative

This initiative aims to establish collaborative relationships between schools, TAFEs and community services to enable better responses to the needs of young people experiencing personal or family difficulties. The primary role of youth support coordinators is to assist young people at risk of disengaging prematurely from learning or training. The Queensland Government funds youth support coordinator positions throughout the state which are employed directly by community-based agencies. Student involvement is voluntary.

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School-based Policing Program

This program focuses on community involvement and preventive approaches to crime. The Queensland Police Service funds the School-based Policing Program. School-based police officers help to provide a safe and supportive learning environment and provide a service in a number of state secondary schools. These officers also visit local feeder primary schools to provide support and information to younger students in the school community.

In addition to the School-based Policing Program, some school communities have a relationship with volunteer police officers (e.g. through the Adopt A Cop) who work with the local school in fostering better relationships between the police service and the school community.

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