Program Guidance

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.

Funding arrangements

Eligible school campuses 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 (ARIA+) defines remote and very remote.

Schools that were funded by the National School Chaplaincy Program in 2022 were funded by the NSWP in 2023.

Following a competitive application process, 613 school campuses have been allocated funding for 2024 to 2027. See Participating schools below.

Schools can also engage:

  • chaplains through their own funds or a community partnership, using the Chaplaincy Policy
  • student wellbeing officers through their normal employment practices.

For enquiries, contact:

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 institution 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.

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
  • privacy
  • anti-discrimination
  • 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.

Position description

A standard position description for chaplains and student wellbeing officers is available.

Qualification and training

Mandatory requirements

All chaplains and student wellbeing officers must hold a valid employee working with children clearance.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must comply with the school’s child safety screening requirements.

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must:

Minimum qualifications

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 Package that meet these requirements are:

Information on training providers for these courses can be found at

Other qualifications in psychology or social work may be suitable. See:

Training requirements

Chaplains and student wellbeing officers must undertake:

NSWP providers and schools must ensure that chaplains or student wellbeing officers receive professional development relevant to their role.

Participating schools

Schools participating in the NSWP 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 Agreement describes how the program is managed.

Further information

For further information about the NSWP, you can contact the Department of Education by email at