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PARENTS who allow their children to regularly skip school will face hefty fines after crackdown on truancy.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall will launch the Liberals’ truancy policy on Friday, which includes fining parents $2000 — a 400 per cent increase. The State Government also said it intended to lift the maximum fine to $5000, reports The Adverstiser.

The Liberals’ plan would also see parents face “aggressive” prosecution and 50 per cent more staff to enforce school attendance if the State Liberals are elected in 2018.

Education Minister Susan Close said later this year she would also introduce laws to make it easier to prosecute parents and the ability to issue on-the-spot fines for truancy.

She said a prosecution the Government recently initiated would likely assist in guiding the changes needed to make future cases easier to pursue.

On average, SA students missed almost one week of school (4.5 days) each term last year. Missing 10 days out of a school term is classified as “chronic non-attendance” and can trigger prosecution of a parent but so far none has proceeded to court.

Mr Marshall said that five days away each term over a child’s whole education added up to more than a year of missed schooling.

“Parents who take no responsibility for their children’s education should be held accountable,” he said.

The Liberal plan to crack down on truancy includes:

AMENDING the Education Act to increase the maximum fine for parents who allow their children to be chronically truant from $500 to $2000.

“AGGRESSIVE” pursuit of prosecutions against parents who refuse to engage with the Education Department.

INCREASING the fine for hindering or obstructing officers who are identifying children not at school from $5000 to $7500.

AUDITING all public schools’ attendance policies.

ENSURING children under guardianship of the minister attend school or other mainstream education, cutting down on the large number who have reduced hours or do not attend at all, as recommended by the child protection Royal Commission.

INCREASING the number of Education Department truancy officers by 50 per cent.

Liberal education spokesman John Gardner said there was a clause in the current Education Act that gave parents a “get out clause” to prosecution where they could argue they had made reasonable endeavours to get their children to school.

“There are cases before the court where if this proves to be the problem, we’ll also be eager to change that,” he said.

An internal Education Department document obtained by The Advertiser last year revealed that almost a third of student absences from public schools were not explained.

In March this year, Education Minister Susan Close revealed Labor was working on a plan to get tough on parents, which included giving some school staff similar powers to child protection workers to enable them to require meetings between the families of absent children and welfare authorities.

Attorney-General John Rau said the Government’s proposed reforms to data-sharing laws could allow the state to work with the Federal Government to reduce parents’ Centrelink payments if their children were regularly absent from school.

“The Commonwealth have a program where if people don’t vaccinate their kids, they are penalised with Centrelink, which has improved vaccination rates,” he said.

“With truancy in schools, you could provide a similar disincentive.”

Update 21 Sep

Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, also believes linking recipients’ payments to their children’s school attendance could have the same success as the “no jab, no play” policy, the Herald Sun reports.

The “no jab no pay” policy withholds payments from families who fail to have their children vaccinated.

“There are other areas where if you had the same stringency of design, it’s quite possible that you could have also very good results,” Mr Porter said. “I must say that one of them … is the linking of payments to school attendance.”

Ms Close said the Government would consider any approach where evidence showed there were sustainable improvements in school attendance.

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  • I’m in favour of anything which will increase children school attendance.

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  • Some schools require you to contact the school if your child is not going that day. The parents may even get a phone call if they don’t. If parents know in advance that their child will not be attending for any reason they can notify the school beforehand. In some homes where both parents work they amy leave home before the children do…or the kids may leave for school but walk back home. When I was at school some boys from one family kept missing school. A Truant Officer visited their home and found the boys playing on the garage roof. The parents weren’t home. The boys admitted that they left home but went back later when they knew their parents wouldn’t be home. I know a intellectually disabled child who used to walk home from school at lunch time…..and her Mother took her back.

    Reply

  • This isn’t right. Education is so important but it is up to the parents to make this decision.

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  • YES! Every child is entitled to an education and most often, it’s the parents who affect a child’s ability to attend. I’ve seen so many children from broken or troubled homes who need the routine that school provides, but often it’s made difficult to attend because of their home and family life. Lazy parents, drugged parents, don’t care parents. These poor children are the ones that suffer.

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  • Sounds a bit like the American system. Im not sure if it is America wide but in Pennsylvania a school aged child is only allowed time off school for illness and if they have a certain number of days off school then parents are sent a letter from the school warning them that they have used all available absent days and if the child has any more days off school that year then they will be fined unless they provide a Doctors certificate. Doctors of course cost money and if your child is sick and not well enough for school but not sick enough to see a Doctor then you are in a bind.

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  • There will be parents who are unable to pay the fines. Then what? There needs to be another solution, though I’m not sure what it will take to make children and parents realise that education and discipline (i.e. following the rules) are excellent tools for setting up success in life.

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  • I feel guilty if my kids have a sick day because I know they are missing out on something educational – I don’t understand why some parents think it is ok for their kids to miss so much school (even getting to school late means they miss something!)

    i hope that this policy focus’s more on the repeat offenders and offers something constructive to encourage the parents and the children to attend school rather than just a wrap on the knuckles and pay a fine!

    Reply

  • School is important but this is a bit too much controlling for me. I don’t think it’s right when the government approaches it in this way.

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  • will be difficult to police, prove it is the parent not caring about the education and not just the kid following their friends. My step daughter just got caught wagging school this week (went to the shop at lunch time), she was sent to school on the bus and was expected by her mother to actually be there, when does the school have to take some responsibility?

    Reply

  • I agree with previous comments that yes there are some parents who have a slack attitude regarding school attendance, but others make genuine attempts to get children into classrooms. I don’t think a blaket rule approach will work for a variety of reasons. It needs to be assessed on a case to case basis.

    Reply

  • Oh dear, I’m not sure this is the right way to go. I know some parents just don’t give a hoot about their kids and whether they go to school or not. But a lot of parents do their best. I was a wagger in high school. My mum used to drive me to school, even walk me in the doors, to make sure I got to school. I went in one door and out the other, you couldn’t make me stay. They spoke to the school, to the police, to teachers, to a social worker to help. None of it worked. It’s not always the parents fault, I hope the govt acknowledges this and treats each case individually

    Reply

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