Aim of the School
The Austin School is a P-12 school setting located within the grounds of the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg. The school provides specialised educational services to young people, both inpatient and outpatient, who have significant emotional, physical and psychiatric problems. They are patients of the Austin Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), the Paediatric Ward (2 West), or Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Hospital.
The Adolescent Inpatient Unit currently accepts referrals of young people (13 to 17 years) from the North Western sector of the state. Younger children (0 to 12 years) from across Victoria can be referred to the Child Inpatient Program. This is the only mental health inpatient unit for young children in Victoria. Patients from the Paediatric Ward and Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Hospital, whose stay in hospital is considered long enough to affect their learning, can be referred to the Wards Teaching Program.
Outpatients of CAMHS can be offered placements in short term programs designed to support their social education and to facilitate a return to an educational or vocational setting especially if they are either not attending school or are identified as being at risk of exclusion from schooling. There are programs for primary aged students, secondary aged students, and group programs focussing on development of appropriate social skills. Attendance for all students is for the short term. Liaison with home schools is an integral component of the programs. Support with reintegration to home school is also provided.
The capacity of staff members to work effectively with some of the most troubled young people in our community and to assist them to reintegrate into their local educational community evidences the commitment of our teachers, many of whom are trained special educators. In particular, the patience and competence of teachers in managing the particularly disturbed behaviour of our students is widely acknowledged. To then be able to communicate with others in the community about ways that they can also manage these students requires high level consultancy and liaison skills. The feedback from parents on the work teachers in the school have done with their child is consistently high. Mainstream schools also express their appreciation of the support.