Complex Medical Needs

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Purpose of this policy

To enable students needing complex medical care to attend school.


Schools must:

  • develop a Student Health Support Plan for students needing complex medical care
  • designate staff to provide complex medical care.

Complex medical care definition

Complex medical care often requires school staff to undertake specific training to meet the student’s individual health needs. These needs cannot be addressed through basic first aid training and staff may be involved in:

  • tracheostomy care
  • seizure management
  • medication by injection or rectal suppository
  • administering suction
  • tube feeding
  • specialised medical procedures.

Provision at school

The department does not expect or require teachers in general to provide complex medical care.  When it is agreed that specialised medical procedures may be needed to enable a student to attend school then:

  • designated school staff must receive specific training to allow them to meet the student’s individual health care need
  • the Student Health Support Plan should:
    • be guided by medical advice received by the student’s medical practitioner via the Department’s Medical Advice Form
    • describe specific training requirements
    • include procedures that make use of local medical services such as ambulances, local doctors, health centres, hospitals and community nurses when practical.

See: Health Care Needs within Related policies


This table lists the assistance available to schools to support students needing complex medical care.

Program or service Description

Program for Students with Disabilities

Provides additional resources to schools with students whose health conditions meet the World Health Organisation definitions of disabilities.

See: Program for Students with Disabilities

Student Support Service Officers including Visiting Teacher Service

Student Support Service Officers are available to assist students in government schools and include speech pathologists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, youth workers, curriculum consultants, visiting teachers.

Contact: Department’s region see: Department Regions  

The Visiting Teaching Service provides educational support to students with a disability or other health impairment in regular school settings. The streams of expertise are:

  • physical disabilities or impairments
  • hearing impairment
  • vision impairment.

Referrals of students to the SSSO services require parent/guardian consent and can be made by:

  • principals and teachers
  • parents/guardians
  • hospitals
  • medical agencies
  • child and allied health professionals
  • community agencies.

Schoolcare program

Provided by Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and funded by the department, to:

  • enable students with complex medical needs to safely attend school
  • provide teachers and Education Support (ES) staff child-specific training, monitor and support from nursing staff, in consultation with a student’s, parents/guardians and the medical/health practitioner.

See: Schoolcare program below.

Condition Specific Organisations

  • Epilepsy Foundation
  • Asthma Foundation Victoria
  • Victorian Continence Resource Centre

See:  Other resources

Schoolcare program

The Schoolcare Program is funded by the Department and provided in partnership with the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) to:

  • give Victorian government school staff the skills through specialist training to support students who have complex medical needs.
  • enable students with ongoing complex medical needs to have their health care requirements met safely at school.

The following table describes the steps for completing the Schoolcare program referral form and for undertaking training.

Stage Description


The principal should access the Schoolcare Program guidelines and referral form from the Department's Medical and Accessibility Support webpage.


The principal, parent/guardian and medical practitioner complete the referral form, including:

  • Part A - Parent consent and student details
  • Part B - School details
  • Part C - Medical information

​The principal should return the completed referral form to:

Schoolcare Program
Resources Coordination Group
Wellbeing, Health and Engagement Division
Department of Education and Training
GPO Box 4367
Melbourne 3001

Or scan and email to


The Schoolcare Program coordinator, in consultation with the RCH, determines eligibility and then notifies the nominated school contact. The school notifies the parents/guardians of the referral outcome.

​5​The Schoolcare Program coordinator arranges a suitable training time with the school contact.


The RCH nurse assesses the level of support required to meet the student's medical needs and develops a student specific care manual for the school. 


The nurse/s attends the school to deliver student specific training to the nominated school staff carers and assesses the staff carers' competency. 


Following the initial training all carers (new and established) are required to undertake training every 6 months. The RCH nurse reviews the care manual and school staff competency.


If staff or the school are sued for negligence in administering complex medical care:

  • the Department appoints a solicitor to defend the action at no cost to the staff member
  • payment of any damages is made by the state of Victoria.

This does not apply if the:

  • teacher was drunk
  • behaviour was unrelated to the employment
  • behaviour was outrageous
  • behaviour would implicate the teacher in a serious criminal offence.

See: Personal Liability of School Employees   

Related policies