Australians who want to support their community as psychologists, social workers, youth workers, counsellors and community workers will now pay less for their degree through a new professional pathway.
The Morrison McCormack Government has accepted the recommendations of a working group established to implement a Professional Pathway Psychology discipline and a Professional Pathway Social Work discipline.
The working group, chaired by Swinburne University of Technology previous Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Linda Kristjanson AO, recommended a professional pathway stream for psychology and social work, including for students in youth work, counselling and community work degrees.
Students on the professional pathway will now pay $7,950 for a full year of study in those disciplines, a saving of $6,550 compared to student contributions in student contribution band four.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the new professional pathway would direct more Australians to become job-ready graduates in the field of mental health.
"The challenges of the bushfires and COVID-19 have demonstrated that Australia needs more Australians qualified to provide professional mental health support to their fellow Australians that need help," Mr Tehan said.
"The changes made today will ensure students obtain qualifications that make them job-ready to provide that essential mental health support to their communities.
"Our Job-ready Graduates package combined with the $298.5 million for additional Commonwealth supported places in national priority areas in the Budget will create up to 30,000 additional university places for Australian students next year."
Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education Andrew Gee said the professional pathway for psychology couldn’t have come soon enough for country students and communities.
"The devastating impacts of the drought, bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic have hit country communities hard. We must not underestimate the heavy mental toll this year has taken," Minister Gee said.
"The professional pathway for psychologists, social workers, youth workers, counsellors and community workers will ensure that we have vital mental health professionals in the bush to support the recovery of rural and regional Australia.
"We know that students who study in regional Australia are more likely to stay on to work and live in the bush following graduation. To put it simply, we are turning country students into country mental health professionals.
"These changes will help bridge the education divide between the city and the country and will be welcomed by country universities and country communities."