School arranges staff counselling
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 8, 6 November 2020, page no. 24
Bundaberg Special School’s administration team pro-actively supported staff wellbeing this term by arranging private counselling sessions.
The team enlisted the services of Lifeworks to offer staff a private one-hour counselling session or the opportunity to participate in one of several group sessions. The team provided TRS for the day to provide rolling relief for any teachers, teacher-aides, office or grounds staff who wished to attend. The regional office supported the move after contact from principal Michael Brett.
2020 has created a range of new challenges and the staff response to the initiative was so positive that an additional date for counselling was immediately booked – and booked out. Prep teachers Barb Fresta and Fern Albury both accessed sessions with the counsellor and shared the impacts on them.
“It was very helpful to download to someone from outside the school. Talking about things really gave me some clarity about why I was feeling the way I was,” Barb said.
Fern laughed and said she didn’t realise she needed a session until she was convinced to attend by a colleague. “I found it really helpful – I’m so glad I went,” she said.
Creating a culture in which it is safe to ask for help has been a priority of the volunteer wellbeing committee, which first identified the need after a staff survey. The range of stressors that have impacted greatly on staff wellbeing range from injuries to and illnesses of students, stress related to the behaviours and anxiety of students who were struggling to return to school after learning at home, angst about COVID-19, and other personal and family issues. The wellbeing committee continues to meet twice a term with the administration team to support all staff.
“We care greatly and are very invested in our staff wellbeing. If our staff are struggling physically or mentally – we can’t do the demanding work that we do,” Michael said.
Lifeworks are the nominated providers of the Employee Assistance Program for Education Queensland. Find out more at https://education.qld.gov.au/initiatives-and-strategies/health-and-wellbeing/workplaces/eap