Operational Guidance

National Student Wellbeing Program

Departmental policies and guidelines

Government schools

NSWP chaplains and student wellbeing officers must follow school policies. These are published on the school’s website and in the Policy and Advisory Library.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers should be aware of and follow policies in areas such as:

  • Student health, safety, wellbeing and engagement. For example student health and wellbeing, child safety, duty of care, students at risk and bullying.
  • School operations and student administration. For example, complaints, conflicts of interest, decision-making for students, privacy and information sharing, records management and student support.

If there is a conflict between a school or departmental policy and any other policy, Department of Education policies in the Policy and Advisory Library will apply.

Non-government schools

NSWP chaplains and student wellbeing officers must follow their school’s policies. For example, child safety, privacy and information sharing and records management.

Provision of services

Schools must use NSWP funding to provide wellbeing services that meet NSWP objectives.

Services should be provided:

  • during the school term
  • within school hours or at school-related activities approved by the school.

Each school determines how many hours of service their chaplain or student wellbeing officer provides each term.

Camps and excursions

Government Schools

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers may attend camps and excursions organised by the school. They can be included in supervision ratios for excursions.

See the Department’s Staffing and Supervision policy for further detail.

Non-Government Schools

Non-government schools should seek advice about chaplains and student wellbeing officers attending camps and excursions consistent with their employment or contractual arrangements.

Events provided by NSWP providers

External events conducted by NSWP providers during school holidays cannot be considered part of chaplaincy or student wellbeing services. For example, camps or conferences.

If chaplains or student wellbeing officers attend such events in a private capacity, they must not conduct themselves in a manner which impacts the delivery of their services under the NSWP.

Participation by students in the NSWP is voluntary.

Schools must obtain written consent from a parent, carer or the student (if an adult or mature minor) before services are provided.


A NSWP consent form is available to support schools.

Translated parent consent forms will be available during Term 1, 2023.

It is not mandatory to use this consent form. Existing consent forms used for student wellbeing services may also be appropriate. When providing consent, parents, carers and students must be informed about:

  • the voluntary nature of the services
  • the nature of the service to be provided
  • the role of the chaplain or student wellbeing officer
  • the type of information to be collected and reasons for its collection
  • how information will be stored
  • how information may be disclosed
  • how the person providing the information can access or update the information provided.

Consent can be obtained at the beginning of each school year or on each occasion of service as appropriate.

Non-government schools can:

  • use the consent form and procedure outlined above
  • use a consent form provided by their sector authority
  • use a consent form of their own that aligns with the requirements above.

Child protection reporting obligations

Government schools

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers are in frequent contact with students. They are well placed to observe when a student appears to be at risk of abuse or neglect.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must comply with mandatory reporting obligations under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must follow the:

The Department of Education provides mandatory reporting training for chaplains and student wellbeing officers in all sectors.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must complete this training every year.

Non-government schools

Non-government schools should follow the child safety and reporting procedures established by their school.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers in non-government schools must complete mandatory reporting training every year.

Information, record keeping and reporting policies

Government schools

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must follow school and department policies about:

Non-government schools

Catholic and independent schools should follow the procedures established by their respective sectors.

Students in Catholic and independent schools can apply for access to student records directly from the school.

NSWP Forms

Optional forms to manage referral and intake process and case noting are available:


Government schools

Complaints must be managed in line with the department’s Complaints Policy.

Complaints about the following issues must be referred to the department for advice:

  • alleged serious misconduct
  • unsatisfactory performance
  • sexual harassment
  • misuse or inappropriate disclosure of personal information

For more information, see: Reportable Conduct.

Records of all complaints must be held securely at the school with restricted access.

Non-government schools

In non-government schools, the school’s complaints procedures must be followed.

Catholic schools must follow their approved complaints processes and refer complaints to their Diocesan office:

  • Metropolitan Catholic schools must refer complaints to the Catholic Education Office Melbourne, Professional Conduct, Ethics and Investigations Unit
  • Schools in Sale, Ballarat and Sandhurst must refer complaints to the Catholic Education Offices in those dioceses.

Records of all complaints must be held at the school.

Use of NSWP funds

Schools must use NSWP funds in the year for which they are provided. Schools cannot roll over funds.

Funding provided by the NSWP contributes to the cost of the chaplaincy or student wellbeing service. It may not cover the entire cost of the service. Schools may need to contribute their own funds.

Schools can purchase extra services using their own funds.

Schools should plan for staff vacancies or leave arrangements to ensure funding is used. For example:

  • if a school cannot fill a role across four school terms, the school could provide increased hours across fewer terms
  • if a chaplain or student wellbeing officer is on extended leave, services could be varied to provide the agreed amount of service.

If a school withdraws from the NSWP, any unused funding must be returned.

The NSWP cross-sectoral panel may be able to reallocate funding to another eligible school that did not receive funding.

Local Support Committees

There is no requirement for schools or NSWP providers to establish local support committees for the NSWP.

In many cases, existing student wellbeing committees may be able to support the role of the chaplain or student wellbeing officer.

Schools may create a local support committee if needed. If a support committee is created it should operate within the established governance structures of the school.