Bairnsdale Secondary College students will have access to an on-site doctor from next month as part of the ʻDoctors in Secondary Schoolsʼ program. The program is the brainchild of the State Government and will help tackle barriers preventing young Victorians from accessing healthcare, including concerns about confidentiality and not knowing where to go. In launching the project at Bairnsdale Secondary College on Monday, Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, said: “We know the tyranny of distance means itʼs sometimes hard to find access to a GP.” “We know young Victorians have some of the lowest GP attendance rates around but instead of students using Google as their doctor, we are putting GPs in secondary schools.” Ms Shing acknowledged that students often found conversations around their health “a bit tricky”. But she said that by talking to a doctor, students “can be steered in the right direction”.
“Donʼt be ashamed to ask questions about your health,” she told a room full of students. Sally Kendall, who provides support for students around health issues and mental wellbeing, said having a doctor once a week at the college would be a real bonus. Ms Kendall said students who experience mental health issues, “such as anxiety, panic attacks or aspects of depression tended to isolate themselves”. She said some students travelled long distances by bus from Buchan and Fernbank meaning access to a doctor was difficult. “The school is partnering with parents to enable students who need to see a doctor can do so more easily,” Ms Kendall said. The college said it has had a good response from local clinics who were keen to provide a doctor one day a week. A decision will be made in the next few weeks on just who that will be.