National Student Wellbeing Program
The National Student Wellbeing Program (NSWP) provides:
- pastoral care services
- strategies that support the wellbeing of the broader school community.
NSWP services must be developed in consultation with school staff, the principal and school community.
The NSWP defines pastoral care as the practice of supporting the general wellbeing of students and the school community.
Participation by schools and students in the NSWP is voluntary.
The NSWP is a complementary service to those provided by qualified specialists. The NSWP is not:
- a specialist service that provides counselling, mental health, psychological or allied health services
- a religious program. It does not provide religious instruction or religious counselling.
This program replaces the National School Chaplaincy Program.
Schools that were funded by the National School Chaplaincy Program in 2022 will be funded by the NSWP in 2023.
Eligible schools will receive up to $20,280. Eligible schools in remote or very remote areas will receive up to $24,336.
The Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia defines remote and very remote.
All Victorian schools will be able to apply for NSWP funding for 2024–27 in Term 2, 2023.
Schools can also engage:
- chaplains through their own funds or a community partnership, using the Chaplaincy
- student wellbeing officers through their normal employment practices.
For enquiries, contact: email@example.com.
Roles and responsibilities
Through the NSWP, schools can engage a chaplain or a student wellbeing officer.
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers may be of any faith or of no faith.
A chaplain is an individual who:
- has the skills and experience to deliver chaplaincy services to the school community
- has the endorsement of a religious institution
- meets the NSWP’s minimum qualification requirements.
A title other than ‘chaplain’ can be used to reflect different religious affiliations.
A religious means an entity that:
- operates under the auspices of any faith
- provides activities, facilities, programs or services where adults interact with children.
Student Wellbeing Officer
A student wellbeing officer is an individual who:
- has the skills and experience to deliver student wellbeing services to the school community
- meets the NSWP’s minimum qualification requirements.
A title other than ‘student wellbeing officer’ may be used as appropriate.
NSWP chaplains and student wellbeing officers may:
- work as a member of the school’s wellbeing team in the delivery of student wellbeing services
- contribute to improving student engagement and connectedness
- contribute to providing a safe, inclusive and supportive learning environment
- provide pastoral care and guidance to students
- operate within the school community and with external providers.
The roles and responsibilities of NSWP chaplains and student wellbeing officers could include:
- supporting student attendance, engagement and mental health
- supporting students in difficult or challenging situations such as during times of grief
- providing students with referrals to specialist services when required
- providing pastoral care and guidance to students about values and ethical matters
- supporting physical, emotional, social and intellectual development and wellbeing of students
- supporting an environment of cooperation and respecting a diversity of cultures and traditions.
NSWP chaplains and student wellbeing officers must not:
- proselytise, evangelise or advocate for a particular religious view or belief
- enter into compromising situations where a student, chaplain or student wellbeing officer may seek to keep inappropriate behaviour confidential
- behave in a way that impacts the delivery of their services under the program, including in a private capacity
- perform professional or other services for which they are not qualified
- visit students’ homes to work with students and their families
- conduct religious services or ceremonies or lead in religious observances
- provide religious instruction or religious counselling to students
- promote external events run by religious organisations. For example, camps, excursions, youth conferences, guest speaker presentations etc.
- become involved in parenting disputes, family law matters or other legal proceedings.
Code of conduct
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must sign a code of conduct.
- see: NSWP Code of
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must follow:
- these guidelines
- all State and Commonwealth legislation
- all relevant government/non-government school policies.
This includes legislation and policies for:
- child protection
- mandatory reporting
- human rights
- creation, retention, management and disposal of student records.
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must demonstrate a high standard of professional conduct. When carrying out their responsibilities, they must:
- follow the child safety code of conduct and policies of the school
- respect the authority of the school principal (or delegate) and governing body and work in consultation with them
- contribute to a supportive, safe, inclusive and caring learning environment within the school
- respect other people’s views, values and beliefs, including cultural and religious perspectives
- support students irrespective of their religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs
- discourage any form of harassment or discrimination
- refer students to services that will support the student’s needs, values and beliefs
- provide unbiased information about support and services available in the broader community
- be approachable to all students, staff and members of the school community
- not seek to impose beliefs or persuade students towards a particular set of beliefs
- avoid unnecessary physical contact with students
- keep appropriate records to document the support provided to students/school
- share information in line with relevant policies and legislation ensure the school can meet its duty of care obligations to students.
A standard position description for chaplains and student wellbeing officers is available.
Qualification and training
All chaplains and student wellbeing officers must hold a valid employee working with children .
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must comply with the school’s child safety screening .
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must:
- follow Victorian laws and policies in relation to child protection and child safety
- follow legislation relating to working with children and mandatory reporting
- note the Victorian Child Safe and the Victorian Reportable Conduct
- note national policies and strategies led by the National Office for Child
- note the Commonwealth Child Safe
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must hold a Certificate IV equivalent or higher qualification that includes competencies in:
- mental health and making appropriate referrals, and
- providing pastoral care or working with youth.
Qualifications in the Community Services Training that meet these requirements are:
- Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care
- Certificate IV in Community Services
- Certificate IV in Mental Health
- Certificate IV in Youth Justice
- Certificate IV in Youth Work .
Information on training providers for these courses can be found at .
Other qualifications in psychology or social work may be suitable. See:
- the Psychology Board of Australia approved courses of ;
- the Australian Association of Social Workers accredited .
Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must undertake:
- eSafety provided by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. This must be:
- completed within three months of commencing
- refreshed at least every two and a half years.
- Mandatory reporting every year. See the Protecting Children — Reporting and Other Legal
NSWP providers and schools must ensure that chaplains or student wellbeing officers receive professional development relevant to their role.
Schools participating in the NSWP in 2023 are listed below.
Governance and administration
The NSWP is an Australian Government Program. The Victorian Government administers the program through a cross sectoral panel comprising:
- the Victorian Department of Education
- Catholic Education Commission of Victoria
- Independent Schools Victoria.
The terms of reference of the NSWP cross sectoral panel are available
The NSWP Federation Funding describes how the program is managed.
For further information about the NSWP, you can contact the Department of Education by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed 17 March 2023