Queensland’s 160-strong team of school-based youth health nurses are this week celebrating 20 years of helping young people live healthier and learn better.
The Queensland Labor Government established the school-based youth health nurse service with 100 nurses in 1998 as a two-year trial to help address growing health issues faced by young people and to support healthy lifestyle choices.
Twenty years later, there are now 160 clinical nurses in state secondary schools across Queensland.
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the program, delivered in partnership with Education Queensland, was vital for improving the health and wellbeing of young people.
“We know that healthy young people are better equipped to learn, and adolescence is a time of great vulnerability and change,” Mr Miles said.
“Not only do young people have to navigate their way through physical changes, but also emotional changes that can impact how they think and respond to certain situations.
“Having access to school-based youth health nurses who can provide free one-on-one health consultations, assessments, health information and referrals within their educational environment is a great support.”
School-based youth health nurses provide confidential advice on contemporary health issues such as healthy eating, growth and development, physical activity, mental and sexual health, smoking, alcohol and drugs, and personal and family problems.
Mr Miles said a significant benefit of the service was that it allowed young people to conveniently access healthcare within the safe and familiar setting of their school.
“Young people can face a range of barriers to healthcare such as having a limited knowledge of what services are available, confidentiality concerns, affordability, transport issues, or less experience in recognising health risks,” he said.
“By working alongside education staff, school-based youth health nurses are helping to create an environment and school culture that promotes health and prevents illness.
“Over the past 20 years, school-based youth health nurses have helped thousands of young people and we thank them for the difference they have made, and continue to make, to the health and wellbeing of young people and their families across Queensland.
“It is another example of our commitment to ensuring the delivery of vital health services to Queenslanders in their local communities.
“I am proud a Labor government established such a vital service that continues to evolve and grow each day, and sincerely thank our school-based youth health nurses for the important work they do.”
The 20th anniversary of the School-based Youth Health Nurse Service will be celebrated at the service’s Biennial Conference at the Queensland Children’s Hospital on 18 and 19 September.