The purpose of this policy is to outline the referral and consent process and requirements relating to the department’s Navigator Program (Navigator), and school responsibilities for Navigator Program participants.
- Navigator supports disengaged young people to return to education and learning.
- Students enrolled in or intending to enrol in a Victorian government and non-government schools and education settings are eligible to participate in Navigator.
- Participation in Navigator is by referral.
- Consent from the young person’s parent or carer must be sought before the referral is made. It is strongly encouraged that the young person is also made aware of and supportive of the referral.
- In certain circumstances, a referral can be submitted without consent.
- Anyone can refer a young person to Navigator and this policy sets out specific requirements and processes for referrers, based on whether they are:
- from the young person’s current school or education setting
- if they are the young person’s parent or carer
- if they are any other person (that is, not the young person’s parent, carer or from their school or education setting).
- Schools are responsible for supporting the re-engagement of Navigator participants in education.
Navigator supports disengaged young people by working with the young person, their family and support network to address issues underlying disengagement and help them re-engage with their education.
Navigator is delivered by contracted community service organisations that work closely with local schools and department area teams. In each area, the program is tailored to its local community and services.
The following information outlines the requirements relating to referring a young person to Navigator.
A young person must be eligible to participate in Navigator. To be eligible, a young person must meet the following criteria:
- be 12 to 17 years of age (inclusive)
- be enrolled in, or intend to enrol in a Victorian education setting (including non-government schools)
- have attended 30% or less of the previous school term, or equivalent, or not be attending an education setting at all or
- be 10 to 11 years of age and study or intend to study in the department areas of Bayside Peninsula, Hume Merri-bek, Loddon Campaspe and Western Melbourne (the Navigator Program is being piloted for a younger cohort. Referrals for young people aged 10 to 11 in these areas who also meet the criteria b and c can be submitted via the ).
Consent from parent, carer or mature minor for the referral
Participation in Navigator is optional and consent from the young person’s parent or carer must be sought before the referral is made. It is strongly encouraged that the young person is also made aware of and supportive of the referral.
Where a parent or carer is unable or unwilling to consent to the referral and the young person is a mature minor for the purpose of making a decision about a referral to Navigator, the young person may consent to the referral instead. For guidance on when and how to assess a student as being a mature minor, refer to the department’s policy on .
For the purposes of this policy, a reference to parent or carer consent includes mature minor consent.
Consent may be in writing or verbal. Referrers should keep a record of the date and the name of the person who gave consent as this will need to be included in the referral form.
Parent or carer consent to submit a referral is important as Navigator is built on a model of strong partnerships between young people, their family, the education provider, community service organisations and the department. These groups work in collaboration to address and overcome the young person’s barriers to educational engagement. Establishing strong partnerships between these groups from the outset is integral to the success of the program.
Where it is not possible or appropriate to obtain consent from the parent or carer and the young person is not considered to be a mature minor for the purpose of making this decision or there are any other concerns in relation to the process, the referrer should contact the relevant area Navigator Coordinator who can assist with making any referrals deemed appropriate. Refer to the Key Navigator contacts section below for Navigator Coordinator contact details for your area.
Once a referral has been processed and it is intended the young person will participate in Navigator, consent to participate in the program will be sought directly from the relevant parent or carer.
Parents and carers who are submitting the referral themselves are advised to read the prior to completing a referral. All other referrers are asked to share this factsheet with parents and carers as part of seeking their consent to submit the referral for the young person.
Submitting a referral to Navigator
Where referrers are unable to complete the online form, they should contact their area Navigator Coordinator for advice and support.
This information applies to staff in schools and education settings making a referral to Navigator on behalf of a student. For a full list of questions schools and education providers will need to respond to during the referral process, refer to the .
In addition to obtaining parent or carer consent to submit the referral, before submitting a referral, schools and education providers are expected to have:
- exhausted relevant school or setting-based support strategies
- obtained principal or assistant principal (or equivalent) authorisation to submit the referral.
Referrals from schools and education providers can only be submitted when the referrer confirms they meet these requirements, or with agreement from the local Navigator Coordinator.
1. School or education setting-based support strategies
It is expected that a range of supports will have already been provided by schools and education providers prior to referral to the Navigator Program. The strategies outlined below are examples of the types of support and actions schools should be taking. These will vary from school to school or education setting and depend on the needs and circumstances of the young person being referred and may include:
- exploring additional, targeted supports for students who are experiencing , , are from a culturally and linguistically diverse or , , are in , , i, , or other family or individual challenges
- regularly contacting the student and their family, and offering supports for engagement, including if necessary
- recording and monitoring attendance and developing an (staff login required) or (staff login required) or (staff login required).
- seeking advice and support from the school’s Department regional or area office (or equivalent)
- seeking support from relevant local community organisations and support services
- referring the student to a with another registered school or a within a registered training organisation
- making a referral to or
- utilising other programs and support services to support school engagement, such as
- implementing relevant staged supports for students, including:
2. Obtain principal or assistant principal (or equivalent) authorisation to submit the referral
School staff who are completing a referral for a student must first discuss the referral with the principal or the assistant principal (or equivalent for non-school education settings) and obtain their authorisation to submit the referral.
When considering if they authorise the referral, the principal or assistant principal should consider the following:
- Has the school or education provider exhausted other relevant support strategies to engage the young person in learning and improve attendance (including strategies listed above)?
- Has the school or education provider followed relevant policies, guidelines and practices in relation to student attendance and engagement?
- Will the school or education provider commit to working in partnership with Navigator to support the young person to re-engage with education? This includes:
- nominating a key contact within the school to act as a liaison between Navigator and the school or education provider
- providing monthly attendance data to the local Navigator team for the referred student.
If the principal or assistant principal can answer ‘yes’ to points a and b and agrees to point c, the referral should be submitted.
If the principal does not authorise the referral, but another member of the school staff believes it should be submitted, they should contact their Navigator Coordinator to discuss this matter.
Information required for schools (and education providers) to submit a referral for a student
All referrals from schools or education providers must include the following:
- confirmation that the parent or carer has provided consent for the school to submit the referral (the referral form will ask the school to record who they gained consent from, how consent was obtained (verbal or written), who collected it, and on what date
- confirmation that the school principal or assistant principal (or equivalent) authorises the referral and agrees to work in partnership with Navigator to support the young person. The referral form will ask for the authorising principal or assistant principal’s name, the date of the authorisation and confirmation that points a to c (see above) are agreed to
- the young person’s attendance rate for the current and previous 4 school terms. The referral form will ask the school to record the total days in the term or term-to-date as well as the number of days attended by the young person in that term - the referral form will then calculate the attendance percentage
- the family’s contact details and the young person’s date of birth
- details of the current or previous strategies the schools or education provider have used to engage the young person
- contact details of the best school or education provider contact
- whether an interpreter is required for the young person or their parent or carer. The specific language spoken is not required at this stage
- whether the young person:
- has a refugee or asylum seeker background (or similar)
- identifies as Aboriginal or Torre Strait Islander
- is known to Child Protection
- is living in out-of-home care
- has a disability or health condition that impacts their educational engagement
- is involved in, or at risk of involvement with Youth Justice.
Once a school or education provider has submitted a referral for a student, the referrer will receive email confirmation it has been received.
The department’s area Navigator Coordinators may then contact the parent or carer (if needed) before contacting the school or education setting to discuss the referral with the identified key contact person and finalise the referral. This may include asking further, clarifying questions as listed in the . For this reason, it is imperative the identified contact person is available to the Navigator Coordinator to discuss the referral in a timely manner. An inability of the Navigator Coordinator to reach the contact person may delay the young person being offered Navigator support.
This information applies to parents and carers making a referral to Navigator on behalf of their child or young person. For a full list of questions asked as part of the referral process, refer to the .
Before making a referral
- It is expected that parents or carers have raised their concerns regarding their child’s or the young person’s engagement with their school and discussed the suitability of a Navigator referral with relevant staff
- If the parent or carer has not yet done this, they should first contact the school to discuss their concerns. If the parent or carer does not have an existing contact, the school’s reception staff should be able to direct them to the most appropriate person. The referral form will ask for details regarding the contact or contact attempts with the school
- If it is not possible or appropriate to contact/discuss with the school, parents or carers can proceed with making a referral or contact a local Navigator Coordinator
- Before a referral is submitted, parents or carers are encouraged to read the
Making a referral
- Once the parent or carer has raised their concerns with the school (where possible and appropriate to do so) a referral to Navigator can be made via
- Once the parent or carer’s referral has been submitted, they will receive email confirmation it has been received
After a referral has been submitted
- The local Navigator Coordinator may contact the parent or carer to help determine if Navigator is suitable for their child or young person. If it is likely the young person will receive Navigator support, the Navigator Coordinator will then contact the school to ask further questions regarding child or young person’s engagement. These questions can be found in the
- The Navigator Coordinator may not contact the parent or carer after the referral has been submitted if they have sufficient information from the school and referral form. In these instances, they will pass the referral directly onto the Navigator service provider who will then contact the parent or carer to discuss commencing the delivery of Navigator support
This information applies to people other than parents, carers and schools who want to refer a young person to Navigator, or complete the referral form on behalf of the school or family. Navigator regards this group of people as ‘other referrers’. For a full list of questions asked as part of the referral process refer to the .
Before making a referral
Obtaining parent or carer consent
- It is the responsibility of other referrers to ensure that they have consent from the young person’s parent or carer prior to submitting a referral. When seeking consent, the referrer must have clearly explained to the parent or carer:
- The referrer should also provide the parent or carer with the to help them understand what is involved in the Navigator referral process.
- The referral form will ask for details regarding who gave consent, how this was obtained, and on what date.
- If the parent or carer does not consent to the referral being submitted, but the referrer believes a referral is still warranted, they should contact the local Navigator coordinator to discuss.
Contacting the school or education provider
- Before making a referral to Navigator, it is expected that the referrer or the parent or carer have, where appropriate, raised concerns regarding the child or young person’s engagement with their school and discussed the suitability of a Navigator referral with relevant staff.
- If the referrer or the parent or carer does not have an existing contact, the school’s reception staff should be able to direct them to the relevant person. Note: if the referrer makes contact with the school, the school will need to adhere to privacy and information sharing requirements and depending on the individual circumstances, may not be able to have this discussion with a person who is not the parent or carer.
- If the referrer or the parents or carer is unable (or it is not appropriate) to discuss the young person’s disengagement with the school, a referral can still be submitted, noting the contact attempts or reasons it is not appropriate to discuss with the school in the referral form.
Making the referral
- Once the referrer has obtained parent or carer consent and contacted or attempted to contact the school (where appropriate) a referral can then be made via the .
- Once the referral has been submitted, the referrer will receive email confirmation it has been received.
After a referral has been submitted
- The local Navigator coordinator may contact the other referrer or the parent or carer to help determine if Navigator is suitable for the young person. If it is likely the young person will receive Navigator support, the Navigator Coordinator will then contact the young person’s school to ask further questions regarding the young person’s engagement. Refer to for a list of the questions the Navigator coordinator will ask the school or education provider.
- The Navigator coordinator may not contact the referrer, parent or carer after the referral has been submitted if they have sufficient information from the school and referral form. In these instances, they will pass the referral directly onto the Navigator Service Provider who will then contact the parent or carer to discuss commencing the delivery of Navigator support.
- Once the referral has been submitted, the local Navigator coordinator will make a determination on the level of information that is shared with the referrer – this will be based on the individual circumstances of the young person and ensure their privacy is respected and that their personal and sensitive information is only shared where necessary.
The following section provides details of key Navigator contacts for general questions , policy information and to make or seek support in making a referral.
General, state-wide and policy queries
Referral related enquiries
To seek assistance with a referral or a local level question about Navigator please contact the area Navigator Coordinator closest to you, details below.
Wimmera South West
North Eastern Melbourne
Inner Eastern Melbourne
Outer Eastern Melbourne
School responsibilities for Navigator Program participants
Schools have an important role to play in supporting at-risk students and ensuring Navigator participants have the best chance to re-engage with education. It is expected that schools will work proactively to:
- support positive school engagement and prevent students from requiring Navigator through addressing disengagement early and providing all relevant interventions
- work collaboratively with the Navigator service provider and department area team to support students referred to Navigator and their efforts to re-engage in school
- ensure students exiting Navigator have a smooth transition and continue to receive targeted school-based and external supports to keep them engaged in school.
Reviewed 21 February 2024