Policy last updated
27 January 2023
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.
Participation in Navigator is by referral and anyone can make a referral. Referrals must be made by completing an online referral . The local area Navigator Coordinator can also assist with making a referral.
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 3 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.
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 Mature Minors and Decision Making.
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 Consent, information and protecting privacy factsheet 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
All referrals to Navigator must be made using the online Navigator referral and follow the process outlined below. Note: Referrals cannot be saved once commenced.
Where referrers are unable to complete the online form, they should contact their area Navigator Coordinator for advice and support.
The process and requirements for submitting a referral to Navigator will differ depending on who is making the referral. The questions contained in the referral form are available on the Resources tab.
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 Navigator – school and education provider referral factsheet .
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 bullying, mental health concerns, are from a culturally and linguistically diverse or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, have a disability, are in out of home care, involved in or at risk of involvement with youth justice, identify as LGBQTI, are experiencing family violence, or other family or individual challenges
- regularly contacting the student and their family, and offering supports for engagement, including using an interpreter if necessary
- recording and monitoring attendance and developing an Attendance improvement plan (staff login required) or Return to school plan (staff login required) or sending attendance letters (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 Flexible Learning Option (FLO) with another registered school or a Re-engagement Program within a registered training organisation
- making a referral to Child or Child
- utilising other programs and support services to support school engagement, such as School Focused Youth
- implementing relevant staged supports for students, including:
- Involving the Primary Welfare , Student Welfare Coordinator, Koorie Education Support or LOOKOUT
- referring the student to Student Support Services
- holding meetings or student support groups with the student and their parent or carer
- developing an individual learning plan and/or a behaviour support plan.
The Navigator referral will ask which of the above strategies the school or education provider has tried or implemented.
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 Navigator – school and education provider referral factsheet . 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 Navigator – parent and carer referral factsheet .
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 Consent, information and protecting privacy factsheet
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 the online referral
- 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 Navigator – parent and carer referral factsheet
- 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 Navigator – other referrers factsheet .
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:
- what Navigator is (further information about the program can be found in the Resources tab).
- why they wish to submit a referral
- what the parent or carer is consenting to.
- The referrer should also provide the parent or carer with the Consent, information and protecting privacy factsheet 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 online referral .
- 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 Navigator – other referrers factsheet 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.
- 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 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
These queries should be directed to the Central Navigator team, Engaging Student At Risk Branch, at Navigator@education.vic.gov.au
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.
Navigator Coordinator: Kerryn Williams
Phone number: 03 7005 1830 or 0436 802 442
Navigator Coordinator: iestyn (pronounced yest-in) Opie
Phone number: 03 4334 0588
Navigator Coordinator: Sarah Letho (Wednesday to Friday)
Phone number: 03 7022 1129
Navigator Coordinator: Theresa Paxino (Tuesday to Thursday)
Phone number: 03 8766 5693
Navigator Coordinator: Louise Palalagi
Phone number: 03 8904 2545
Navigator Coordinator: David Bennett
Phone number: 03 5858 8908
Navigator Coordinator: Colleen Drury
Phone number: 03 5771 4478
Navigator Coordinator: Karla Anderson
Phone number: 0419 164 785
Navigator Coordinator: Kim McCarty
Phone number: 03 5077 3109
Navigator Coordinator: Lana Turner
Phone number: 03 9059 8532
Navigator Coordinator: Younes Benhim
Phone number: 03 4433 7557
Navigator Coordinator: Rhiannon Edwards
Phone number: 03 7022 2416
Navigator Coordinator: Stephanie McLean
Phone number: 03 4245 9147
Wimmera South West
Navigator Coordinator: Mardi Nestor
Phone number: 03 8871 2507 or 0437 502 794
North Eastern Melbourne
Navigator Coordinator: Emma Couper
Phone number: 03 7022 2446
Inner Eastern Melbourne
Navigator Coordinator: Clare Hartley
Phone number: 03 7022 0277
Outer Eastern Melbourne
Navigator Coordinator: Zoe Field
Phone number: 03 7022 1164
Navigator Coordinator: Renee Hoffman
Phone number: 03 8904 2625
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.
Schools must follow the guidance to support student engagement for Navigator Program participants, detailed in the Guidance tab.
Schools’ responsibilities in supporting student engagement of Navigator Program participants
Navigator provides intensive case management and outreach for severely disengaged students. Navigator is built on partnerships with schools and education settings, and it is expected that schools will work proactively to support the re-engagement of Navigator Program participants in education.
This guidance sets out responsibilities for staff in a school involved in supporting students referred to the Navigator Program. Depending on each school’s arrangements, this will typically include teachers and health and wellbeing staff involved in supporting students before, during and after Navigator, and principals and assistant principals who are responsible for endorsing the referral to Navigator.
Pre-Navigator – early monitoring, intervention and support
All schools are required to monitor attendance and commit to using multiple strategies and interventions to address disengagement. For Victorian government schools, this commitment is articulated through their student engagement policy. Schools must:
- intervene early to address student engagement issues, using a range of tiered interventions, which respond to individual student needs and the particular stage of disengagement
- regularly review interventions and planning supports for each student and adjust accordingly to support their complex and changing needs.
The tiered levels of interventions include:
- universal (school-wide) attendance and engagement strategies that create safe, inclusive and empowering environments that foster an enthusiasm for learning and support student wellbeing
- targeted (cohort-specific) strategies that meet the varied needs of vulnerable cohorts, including both prevention and intervention strategies
- individual (student-specific) strategies for students at-risk, including strategies to identify and respond to individual student circumstances when regular attendance is not consistent or positive behaviours are not demonstrated.
Schools can access a range of support for students to support these interventions, as outlined in the Map of key mental health and wellbeing support .
It is expected that before a young person is referred to Navigator, schools undertake the following steps to support the student to re-engage in school:
- Enage in regular discussions with the student’s parents/carers to understand the family context and develop shared strategies to support the student’s engagement with school. Encourage parents to seek support and communicate regularly with teachers and other school staff.
- Arrange a Student Support Group (SSG) meeting as required with the student, their parent/carer, the trusted adult, and relevant teaching or other staff (for example, education support staff, youth worker, Koorie Engagement Support Officer, or community organisation support staff).
- Develop an appropriate support plan(s). This may include:
- Attendance improvement plan /attendance improvement plan (staff login required)
- Absence learning
- Individual education plan (IEP)
- Behaviour support plan (BSP)
- Return to school (staff login required)
- If a student has multiple plans, these plans should complement each other and be kept together so there are no contradictory goals and the student is not overburdened.
- In developing strategies for each student, SSGs should:
- create time and space for the student to voice their perspective on their needs
- prioritise classroom/school adjustments or measures to support attendance
- consider support services that can assist the student, such as the school’s wellbeing team, mental health practitioner, Student Support Services (SSS) referral or secondary consultation (for example, GP in school or family’s GP), external service providers such as Headspace, Orange Door, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services/Child and Youth Mental Health Services
- complete an Educational Needs Assessment for students in out-of-home care (staff login required).
- Wellbeing teams and staff coordinating SSGs may wish to meet with their Health Wellbeing Key Contact (HWKC) to discuss referrals to other services or other support that may be available.
During Navigator – support referral and re-engage the student in school
Schools play a central role in supporting the Navigator referral process, regardless of whether the referral comes directly from the school, the parent/carer or another referrer.
- For referrals made by the young person’s current school, the principal or assistant principal is required to endorse the submission of the referral and ensure it includes all relevant information on the supports previously provided to the student.
- When the referral to Navigator is not initiated by the school, the Navigator Coordinator will contact the young person’s school, or the school at which the young person intends to enrol. Schools are responsible for being responsive to Navigator Coordinators requests for information to determine eligibility and finalise the referral.
Attendance data informs eligibility for Navigator. For government schools this data is from CASES21 and for non-government schools this data is from internal attendance systems.
Supporting the student to re-engage in school
While a student is supported by Navigator, schools are responsible for partnering with the Navigator provider to keep developing and implementing strategies to re-engage the student in school and track the student’s progress. During this period, schools must:
- continue to deliver supports already in place, such as SSGs as required and access to any other supports as agreed to be provided through these meetings
- keep in contact with the student’s family, provide the family with updates on the student’s progress and seek the family’s feedback on their experiences
- provide monthly attendance data from CASES21 (not third party systems such as Compass) to the Navigator Coordinator, which will be used to monitor the student’s progress. Non-government schools should provide this attendance data from their own systems.
Post-Navigator – support a smooth transition and sustain re-engagement in school
Students exiting Navigator require continued support from schools to ensure that the positive results from the program are maintained and built upon.
At the conclusion of Navigator involvement schools must:
- work with the Navigator provider to ensure a smooth handover of responsibility for implementing the strategies and interventions required to sustain the student’s engagement in school
- revise and refresh the student’s planning supports through the SSG, including ensuring that the student continues to be connected to required mental health and wellbeing supports and other services
- regularly monitor the student’s progress through SSG meetings as required and re-assess and adjust supports as the student’s needs change
- keep momentum in setting and moving towards longer-term goals. This may include connecting the student to career planning services, external education and training programs, and providing advice on pathways through higher education, TAFE, apprenticeships, or other education and training settings.
About the Navigator Program (Navigator)
About – a short video that includes interviews with young people who have been Navigator participants and provides an overview of the program.
Navigator online referral form
Navigator online referral – where all referrals to Navigator need to be made.
- Navigator – school and education provider referrals factsheet – outlines the Navigator referral process for schools and education providers. It lists the questions asked at the different phases of the referral process and will better enable schools and education providers to complete a referral for a student
- Navigator – parent and carer referrals factsheet – general information and a step-by-step guide for parents or carers who want to refer their child to Navigator
- Navigator – other referrers factsheet – outlines the Navigator referral process for ‘other referrers’, meaning anyone who would like to refer a young person to Navigator but are not the young person’s parent/carer or from their school/ education provider
Consent, information and privacy factsheet
Consent information and privacy factsheet – provides important information for parents and carers about Navigator's collection and use of information, consent and privacy.
Further information for parents and carers
Attendance and missing – information and strategies for parents and carers to support them increase and maintain their child’s attendance at school.
Child – information and strategies for parents and carers to support managing and building positive behaviours with their children.
Reviewed 05 December 2021