Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Good progress in improving school enrolment and attendance in Queensland and the Northern Territory

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth

An Australian Government program to improve school enrolment and attendance for children from income-supported families is having a positive impact in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

The Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, and the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today released the Improving School Enrolment and Attendance through Welfare Reform Measure (SEAM) Evaluation Report for 2010.

Under SEAM, parents who do not respond to attempts to ensure their child is enrolled and attending school may have their income support payments suspended. The scheme has been trialled in communities covering 14 schools in the Northern Territory and 30 schools in Queensland.

“It’s vital that every young Australian is enrolled in school and turning up to class. We can’t afford to let any of our kids fall through the cracks,” Mr Garrett said.

“SEAM is one part of our strategy to ensure their children are enrolled in school and attending every day, and the 2010 evaluation of the program shows it is already having positive results.”

The 2010 evaluation report revealed:

  • SEAM was successful in ensuring that all children of school-age involved in the trial were enrolled in school or an alternative education program in 2010.
  • In both the Northern Territory and Queensland, from 2009 to 2010, children participating in the SEAM trial improved their attendance rates more than other children in the same schools.
  • Overall attendance by SEAM students increased from 74.4% to 79.9% in the NT and from 84.7% to 88.7% in QLD.
  • Where an enrolment notice was sent, 82% of families in the NT and 84% in QLD provided enrolment details without the need for a welfare suspension.
  • Out of 4688 parents with the scheme, only 85 were suspended under the enrolment component of SEAM and 7 under the attendance component.

The report also found that after social workers from Centrelink contacted families, students were less likely to miss school.

The report also demonstrates the changes the Government has made to the SEAM program since it began in 2009, with an additional enrolment check introduced in Queensland and real-time exchange of data established between education authorities in the Northern Territory and Centrelink.

These changes have helped to make the program more effective in ensuring parents are supported and engaged at the right time.

Ms Macklin said the SEAM results were encouraging, and more work is needed to improve school attendance and enrolment rates in many communities in Australia.

“The Gillard Government is serious about giving every Australian child a great education, which is why we announced last year that SEAM will be expanded to 16 more locations in the Northern Territory, where attendance levels are particularly poor,” she said.

“The expanded SEAM program is being integrated with the Northern Territory Government’s Every Child Every Day strategy to ensure greater engagement between schools and families and give parents extra support when they need it.

“This also reflects what people in the Northern Territory Stronger Futures consultations told us about education – how they want children to attend school regularly and they believe parents have a responsibility to help make this happen.”

The evaluation will also help to inform the Government as it makes decisions about the future of SEAM in Queensland.

For more information on SEAM or to view the 2010 Evaluation Report visit: