A Minns Labor Government will invest $75 million to recruit an additional 250 (FTE) school counsellors in the next term, to deal with the growing mental health crisis in NSW schools and improve education outcomes.


Mental health & school attendance 


One in seven children aged four to 11 are experiencing mental health disorders, and NSW children are not receiving adequate support, according to the Black Dog Institute


The shortage of school counsellors has been identified as a reason for decreased attendance in schools. 


Productivity Commission data shows that school attendance in NSW public schools had dropped to 85.2 per cent in 2022, down from 92.4 per cent in 2015 with NSW - now below the national attendance average of 85.6 per cent.


In fact, more than 60 per cent of NSW public high school students missed at least four weeks of class in 2022, the worst attendance level on record.


Counsellors & students


There is currently one counsellor for every 650 students, according to the NSW Government. 


A 2017 parliamentary inquiry recommended one counsellor for every 500 students. 


Data from the NSW Government shows that 1,688 NSW public schools do not have a full-time student counsellor. 


Labor’s announcement is the first step towards reaching a ratio of one counsellor for every 500 students.


Labor’s fresh start for school & education 


NSW Labor has already committed to banning mobile phones in all NSW public school classrooms as well as investing $2.5 million to research the impact of screens and video games on children, to reduce distraction and improve behaviour at schools. 


There’s a clear choice at the next election when it comes to education in NSW. 


More of the same chronic teacher shortages, underfunding of schools and under delivering of school infrastructure under Dominic Perrottet and the Liberals. NSW Labor’s plan to lift education outcomes includes:


  • Creating 10,000 more permanent teachers by making temporary positions permanent.
  • Labor’s Growth Areas Schools Plan to build more schools and deliver more upgrades in the parts of NSW that need it the most.
  • Ending the underfunding of NSW public schools with an Education Future Fund.
  • Banning mobile phones in all NSW classrooms to decrease distraction and improve behaviour.
  • Investing $2.5 million towards researching the impact of screen and video game addictions among children and their learning.
  • Providing $8 million for Foodbank to deliver meals for hungry children in 1,000 schools to lift attendance and focus in classrooms.
  • Creating a permanent small-group intensive tutoring program for literacy and numeracy.


Quotes attributable to Chris Minns, NSW Labor Leader:


“We need to make sure our students can achieve their potential at school, and that means supporting them when they need it.


“Too often we see school counsellors booked up and students either avoid or miss out on getting support.


“The best thing the NSW Government can do is ensure schools can support our students right through their educational journey.”


Quotes attributable to Prue Car, NSW Shadow Minister for Education: 


“Thousands of schools across Sydney and Regional NSW are going without a full time school counsellor, with some schools having a counsellor available for less than a quarter of a day per week.


“With student attendance and outcomes both falling, we need a fresh approach to lifting engagement and improving student outcomes and that’s what a Minns Labor Government will deliver.”