Child Inpatient Program

The Austin School provides a specialized educational program for children who are inpatients of the Statewide Child Inpatient Mental Health Service. Referrals to this program are accepted from any Child Youth Mental Health Service in Victoria, Southern NSW, and Tasmania, or from private child psychiatrists. The children are aged between 5 and 12 and attend a daily program at the school which is located adjacent to the Inpatient Unit.

The children work in a multi-age classroom with a team of teachers. Teachers in the school program observe each students’ behaviour in the classroom, and then provide appropriate educational activities designed to assist in the development of socially appropriate behaviours.

During the admission an Austin School teacher will liaise with:

  • Teachers from the home school; who are consulted and informed about the child’s academic progress, behaviour, social skills and self-esteem.
  • Parents; who are encouraged to be actively involved with any issues relevant to the educational program of their child.

Liaison may also occur between the Austin teacher and:

  • Community Support Agencies
  • Regional Office Personnel from the Department of Education who may assist in finding appropriate school placements where necessary
  • Wellbeing Officers, School Psychologists and Social Workers who can provide support in school

Contact with schools is maintained through visits, telephone, email and video conferencing. Liaison is fundamental to the development of a consistent approach to meet student needs and achieve successful re-integration of students back into their home school.

The teachers are members of the Child Inpatient team, which includes: child psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, medical and psychiatric nursing staff. The team works together to provide an integrated multidisciplinary program.

Individualised and co-operative educational programs are developed for each student based on their specific needs and interests. Each child is allocated a teacher who has the responsibility to liaise with the child’s home school and with the clinical mini team.

See our program brochure here.

Mia – The Austin School therapy Dog



  • Assists with transitioning into the classroom, reducing anxiety for many school refusers
  • Helps children who are dis-regulated to calm
  • Cuddles children with a trauma history when they need comfort
  • Distracts children from their thoughts when they take her for a walk around the school grounds
  • Promotes good health: brushing teeth, bathing, healthy eating and grooming time
  • Promotes conversation and a topic to write/draw about for those who are hesitant learners
  • Helps school refusing children get back to by taking her on a tour of the home school
  • Promotes risk-taking for those who are unfamiliar with animals
  • Children can communicate their worries through the dog
  • Enables therapeutic conversations to occur and relationships between teacher and child to be built
  • Providing comfort and support for staff