Staff support & referring students

We offer counselling for enrolled VU students and provide assistance to staff when dealing with a student in crisis.

Counselling for enrolled VU students is a free and confidential service. We have services located at Footscray Park, Footscray Nicholson, St Albans, Sunshine, Werribee and City Flinders campuses.

Counselling services for staff are available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Referring students

Academic or teaching staff are often in the best position to recognise problems that students may be experiencing.

Students may openly disclose problems to staff, present in a distressed state, or staff may identify signs indicating problems, including:

  • poor academic performance or attendance
  • excessive requests for extensions
  • changes in behaviour or appearance (e.g. increasing dependence on you, decline in personal hygiene)
  • changes in mood (e.g. withdrawn, 'down').

All staff play a vital and proactive role in helping students adjust to University life and succeeding in their course, by supporting students and referring them to appropriate services.

Students may be referred to the counselling service as well as other student support staff working in the areas of:

How to refer

Step 1: Suggest support options

If you feel a student may need some counselling support, explain to the student that VU has a professional counselling service that is available to all students free of charge, and suggest that this may be a useful option.

When referring students the following points may encourage them to seek help:

  • inform students that the services are free and confidential
  • provide students with a brochure, telephone number or counselling web pages address
  • offer to accompany a student to the service location, especially if the student is distressed
  • give the student a name/s of counsellors available
  • point out that seeking help is a sign of courage or strength rather than weakness or failure, that things don't have to be 'really bad' to see a counsellor
  • inform students that many other students seek the help of counsellors and specialised staff may encourage them to access support.

Step 2: Support the student to make an appointment

The student can be offered information on how to contact the service or it may be appropriate to assist with making an appointment by phone.

If the matter is urgent, please indicate this when contacting the service and be ready to provide some background on your specific concerns to assist in the referral process.

Step 3: If student declines support, what now?

Not all students will take up your suggestion and often this is all you can do as the ultimate decision to seek help rests with the student. It may be helpful to revisit your concerns with the student at a later time.

However, if the matter is serious and you are concerned, consult your supervisor, Head of Department or student support staff. Consider telling the student of your intentions. Please remember you should not hold serious anxieties about someone else on your own.

Student Mental Health Critical Incident Protocol

A Student Mental Health Critical Incident (SMHCI) refers to a serious mental health crisis such as attempted suicide, a severe mental health episode and/or involvement in a traumatic event. Members of the University should contact Student Wellbeing staff when they become aware of a SMHCI, or if they require assistance in determining if an event is an SMHCI.

Business hours Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm:

  1. Senior Counsellor: +61 425 757 310
  2. General Manager, Student Wellbeing: +61 438 794 675.

Secondary consultations

Counsellors consult with staff on a wide range of matters related to student welfare. Confidential information or advice can be provided by student support staff by arranging a meeting time or by phone.

Academic/teaching staff and general staff can also contact the counselling service to assist with student referrals for counselling.

Special consideration

All students can apply for special consideration if their studies or assessment have been adversely affected by a serious, unexpected circumstance.

Students need to be advised to use the most appropriate person or service to support their application, such as a treating medical practitioner, non-VU counsellor, police report or court summons/subpoena. A VU counsellor can be consulted when the reason is a problem affecting the student’s psychological wellbeing or mental health. The counsellor will work to assist the student with the difficulty and may be able to support the special consideration application.

Orientation and group programs

Counsellors are available to speak to new groups of students about our services. This is a valuable way to connect with students during the orientation period.

Counselling staff possess skills and expertise in a range of areas related to student wellbeing and are also available to run group programs for your students on topics such as stress and time management, returning to study and peer support skills.

Contact us to book an orientation session and ask to speak with the senior counsellor.

Counselling services run regular workshops, advertised each semester online.

Staff counselling

Confidential and independent counselling and other services are available to all staff of Victoria University through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

As an employee of the University you can access short-term assistance for work-related or personal issues that may be affecting your ability to function at work. Some of these issue include:

  • conflict and tension – work and personal
  • organisational change
  • work-related or emotional stress
  • personal and career direction
  • relationship or family problems
  • grief and bereavement
  • alcohol and drug problems
  • gambling and financial problems
  • legal matters.

EAP consultants are available to help you work through any concerns or issues you may be facing, as well as facilitate referral to external support agencies for longer-term assistance.

An important aspect of the EAP is that it is private and confidential. Everything discussed in the sessions is kept between you and the consultant you speak with, and your details will not be passed on to anyone at Victoria University.

Staff can ring the EAP provider on 1300 EAP AT VU or 1300 327 288. More information about the EAP is available on the EAP intranet (login may be required).