School refusal or school phobia refers to severe emotional upset experienced by young people at the prospect of attending school.

This can often result in significant, ongoing absences from school.

While the emphasis is on children and teens attending school, caring for children refusing to go to school also places significant burden on parents and carers. The toll can often go unnoticed, whether it is the stress of trying to get kids to attend school, worry about the impacts to children of non-attendance, family stress caused by school refusal, parent or carer mental health, or financial stresses resulting from the need to change jobs or cut back on work hours to support a school refusing child.

School Phobia / School Refusal Australia recognises the challenges and aims to provide a forum to support parents and carers of school refusing young people. We are a group of Australian parents who are supporting beautiful children and teenagers experiencing ‘school can’t’ – or what the literature refers to as school refusal.

We also recognise that children and teens on the autism spectrum make up a disproportionate number of school refusers. Our mission is to make a positive difference to the lives of parents and carers of school refusing young people, by:

  • connecting carers of school-refusing children, teenagers and young adults
  • providing forums for carers to provide and receive peer support and to share their experiences with other carers
  • providing information regarding useful support services for carers and school avoiding children and teenagers, including those with autism
  • providing carers with knowledge of education options for school avoiding children and teenagers

Have you ever had experience with your child refusing to attend school? Tell us in the comments below.


  • My youngest used to actually fake being sick at school so she could go home, had the teachers and I fooled until I took her to the doctor who said there was nothing wrong with her. This was in Prep. She’s in Grade 1 now and much better adjusted, thankfully. It took a year of hard work but it was worth it. Great to know there is help out there, I had no idea.


  • Not y kids, but I was a kid that refused to go to school. My poor parents tried so hard to get me back to school. It must have been so horrible for them


  • Linking in with services is essential and getting support is an absolute must.


  • I know of one girl who refused to go to school. She is very intelligent, is well advanced in all subjects and is bored at school. She can miss a week at school and still be well ahead of other pupils in the class and for her age. At the end of last year they had her assessed. She has skipped one year and gone straight up to the next one. She need to go to a school where she is challenged. She is already one year younger than the rest of her class end of high school I suspect she may need to jump another year.

    • Finding ways to challenge a child that needs more intellectual stimulation is a must for schools.


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