Gowrie Victoria has been rolling out a new mental health and wellbeing package as an extension of its wrap-around support for early childhood education trainees.

The package, developed in conjunction with the Department of Education and The Mental Health Coach, is part of a new approach to attract and retain early childhood trainees in the sector.

Gowrie Victoria’s trainee engagement coordinator Jenny Cock says since the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of new students struggling to balance work and study.

“It’s become really important to provide them with additional support, especially at the beginning,” Jenny says. “As we see them in class weekly, we get to know our trainees well and we can spot the signs if someone might be struggling a bit.”

Gowrie Victoria has worked with Nick McEwan-Hall, of The Mental Health Coach, to create a package of support that includes specialised training, webinars, and one-on-one counselling for trainees.

Nick says the aim is to give students the necessary skills to identify when they’re struggling and the language to talk about it with staff.

“We talk a lot about the essentials of mental health, what anxiety and depression are, and how to spot the signs,” Nick says. “We want students to have exposure to the right information and to understand Gowrie Victoria as an environment where people care about their mental health and wellbeing.”

Nick says Gowrie Victoria recognises that part of training is preparing people for the challenges and providing them with the necessary support to stay engaged in the training program and industry.

“Another aspect of the package is the establishment of a student support program, which allows students to access three sessions with one of our counsellors,” Nick says.

The response to the package has been extremely positive and Jenny says it is heartening to see the trainees open to working through any mental health challenges.

Jenny says the package is an integral addition to the traineeship program, which allows students to work in an early childhood education service, while studying for their qualification.

“We know that trainees need a lot of support, given they are at the start of their career, and managing studying and working might feel like a lot,” she says. “So, our traineeship program offers a range of wrap-around support, which also includes mentoring and additional visits from their training facilitator.

“Once they’ve settled into a routine with their studies and feel they’re established in their work, most trainees can then start to see beyond the initial challenges and see early childhood as a career.” If you’re interested in applying for a Gowrie Victoria traineeship, click on the link below.