Alexandra Smith reports:
School counsellors in NSW independent schools fear students will avoid seeking help or talking openly about their problems because principals can now demand access to their confidential files, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has warned.
A new national privacy manual for independent schools says a principal can access a counsellor’s files “in the same way as he or she may call for the records made by any other school employee which relate to school matters”. It also says that if a student did not accept this, they would need to seek counselling elsewhere.
The APS has warned the policy could have a devastating impact on students but the Association of Independent Schools of NSW says principals have no interest in prying into the private lives of students or their families and have an obligation to ensure the wellbeing of all students in their care.
Read more on Sydney Morning Herald.
Not surprisingly, I agree with the Australian Psychological Society on this one. School counselors have a duty to the student and to the school, but they can fulfill both without the heads of the schools being able to demand and access a student’s confidential records. Any regulation or rule that discourages students from seeking help is a bad one.