More Than 340,000 Primary School Aged Children to Benefit from Expanded Kidsmatter
The Australian Government will target the expansion of the highly successful KidsMatter program to schools in lower socio-economic areas to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Australian children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
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24 June 2011
The Gillard Labor Government will target the expansion of the highly successful KidsMatter program to schools in lower socio-economic areas to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Australian children from disadvantaged backgrounds, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler announced today.
The Government is delivering on its 2010 election commitment to roll the program out to an extra 1,700 schools over the next three years.
The expanded KidsMatter Primary initiative will support resilience and emotional wellbeing for more than 340,000 Australian children.
Speaking at the Australian Primary Principals Association national conference in Adelaide today, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler said, “KidsMatter is a key part of our commitment to improving emotional and social wellbeing for Australian children.”
“Supporting good social and emotional wellbeing as children are growing up ensures they understand that good mental health is just as important as good physical health.
“The evidence is clear that one quarter of all mental disorders emerge before the age of 12 so it’s important we help children build resilience early in life and give them the tools to manage their future.
“KidsMatter is an initiative which can benefit all schools. However we know that children from disadvantaged backgrounds can have additional needs which is why we are targeting the expansion of the program at schools in lower socio-economic areas. We want all Australian children to start life with a strong foundation that they can build on through adolescence and into adulthood,” Mr Butler said.
The Gillard Labor Government will invest $18.4 million over four years from 2010-11 for the expansion of KidsMatter Primary.
KidsMatter is the first national mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention initiative specifically developed for primary schools.
Under KidsMatter, schools, parents and teachers are provided with a range of resources to support mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention efforts in our schools.
Mr Butler said a 2007 pilot of the KidsMatter Primary initiative involving more than 28,000 children in 101 schools showed the program had successfully provided greater support for children experiencing mental health difficulties.
“An independent evaluation carried out in 2009 by researchers at Flinders University in South Australia found that many students with social and emotional challenges had improved their mental health outcomes over the course of the pilot,” Mr Butler said.
“The expansion of the KidsMatter Primary initiative will help more children to build resilience against mental illness while improving the access young people and their families have to appropriate primary care and mental health services.”
Schools and teachers will be provided with free support to assist in the implementation of the program and a nationwide calendar of training events and telephone and online support is currently being developed.
Further information on how Australia primary schools can become involved in the KidsMatter Primary initiative is available at the KidsMatter website.
For more information, please contact the Minister's Office on (02) 6277 7280
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