Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

School enrolment and attendance legislation to be introduced

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion, Deputy Prime Minister

This week the Deputy Prime Minister will introduce legislation to Parliament on Wednesday that will link welfare payments to school enrolment and attendance.

The program will initially be trialled in eight sites affecting around 3300 children and if these are successful the legislation will allow for the national roll out of the policy.

Minister Macklin has already announced a number of sites where this measure will be trialled. Six of these sites will be in the Northern Territory, and two will be metropolitan sites including Cannington in Western Australia.

Parents in these trial sites who receive income support will need to give Centrelink evidence that their children are enrolled in school. If they fail to do this, their payments could be suspended for up to 13 weeks.

If a school reports a student as not regularly attending school, these parents may have their income support payments suspended if they do not take reasonable steps to engage with the school and the school continues to be dissatisfied with the child’s attendance.

We cannot have an Education Revolution and give every Australian child a world class education if they are not going to school.

We will not be able to improve literacy and numeracy, increase the Year 12 retention rate or close the unacceptable gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education outcomes if kids are not turning up to class.

We know that students who are regularly absent from school are those at greatest risk of dropping out of school early, becoming long-term unemployed, dependent on welfare and interacting with the criminal justice system.

We know that the majority of parents do the right thing by making sure their children go to school everyday, but for those who don’t, their kids are missing out and this is not acceptable.