Truancy Fines Entrench Disadvantage - VCOSS
20 December 2013 at 11:28 am
Plans by the Victorian Government to fine parents whose children do not attend school will do little to keep vulnerable young people in education and will entrench their disadvantage, says the Victorian Council of Social Service.
“Keeping children and young people in school is vitally important but fining parents who may already be struggling to get by is the wrong approach and will hurt the most vulnerable members of our community,’ Emma King, CEO of VCOSS, said.
“VCOSS has long advocated for the importance of children and young people participating in education and learning opportunities to improve their life chances, including their health and wellbeing and employment outcomes.
“However, VCOSS does not support the imposition of penalties as an effective measure to improve school attendance.
“All the evidence shows that better early intervention and flexible and tailored strategies to address non-enrolment and attendance concerns are the best way of keeping children and young people in school and giving them the best possible start in life.
“The infringement system, which is typically used for minor traffic and transport offences, is not an effective tool to deal with the complex social issues that underpin disengagement from education and is likely to entrench further disadvantage for the families involved.
“VCOSS recognises that the penalties provided for in the legislation are intended to be used as a measure of last resort after other support measures have been utilised, however we do not believe it is an appropriate response to a complex issue.
“VCOSS has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way these changes will likely impact vulnerable families and the community sector organisations they are increasingly turning to for support.”
Penalties do not address the underlying causes of truancy and disengagement from education
The provisions of the Bill could further undermine relationships between families and schools
Financial penalties are not an effective way to respond to complex social issues
Financial penalties will further disadvantage families that struggle with the cost of education
The cost of the penalties may shift to community sector organisations
No evidence has been presented to support the need for the proposed changes.
“VCOSS has significant concerns that the Bill will not achieve the stated objective of increasing participation in education and is likely have a range of negative impacts, including further alienating those families that are already disengaged from the school system and reinforcing existing intergenerational disadvantage,” King said.
“We also believe that this Bill runs counter to the current work within the Government’s own Department of Education and Early Childhood to create, develop and strengthen partnerships between schools and local community sector organisations.”