SHOALHAVEN High School’s student support officer Lisa Horgan has helped reduce bullying and improve student behaviour, according to a recent study.
Three years ago, Ms Horgan set out to support young people at the school as part of a NSW government trial.
This year, an independent review by the University of NSW found officers like Ms Horgan had helped make a positive impression on students.
Ms Horgan said she worked with organisations such as Headspace and Crossroads, connecting young people and families where needed, as well as working with the school counsellors where necessary.
“The main issues I deal with are cyber bullying and social media,” she said.
“I’m really there as a friend. The students all call me Lisa and I bond with them so they feel comfortable in coming to me to talk about anything at all.
“This trial has enabled that extra support person to be there for young people … the program has been really well received and I hope it continues.
“Hopefully it will be rolled out across all schools in 2015.”
The NSW government committed to the trial of 50 new student support officers in secondary schools at the 2011 state election and provided $14 million worth of funding.
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock confirmed Shoalhaven High School was one of the trial schools which showed impressive results.
“Typical activities run by these officers include stress management sessions for senior students, mental health programs, homework clubs and anger-management programs,” she said.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said across trial schools 80 per cent of students said the student support officers had made their school a safer place.
“Almost two-thirds of students in participating schools reported having sought the help of the student support officers,” he said.
“The review by UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre gives extremely encouraging insights into how effective they have been.”
The continued government funding of student support officers in secondary schools will be decided in June 2015.