Labor refuses action on school refusal


The Greens have called on the Education Ministers Meeting to put action on school refusal at the top of its agenda, after Labor squibbed its response to a Senate report into the crisis.

The government has agreed or supported in principle two of the 14 recommendations in the Education and Employment Committee’s report into “The national trend of school refusal and related matters”, which was tabled in August 2023.

A national Lonergan poll commissioned by the Greens found that two in five families experienced what advocates prefer to call “school can’t” in the last 12 months.

Comments attributable to Greens spokesperson on Primary & Secondary Education, Senator Penny Allman-Payne:

“Parents, carers and advocates have been crying out for help and action on school can’t for years, but those cries have fallen on deaf ears.

“This is a national issue that requires a national response and Labor has thrown it in the too-hard basket.

“The inquiry’s report recommended a range of very basic measures to begin to address this issue and provide much-needed assistance to families in crisis – including developing a national action plan and providing funding for a peer support group – but Labor’s response will leave those families without much hope.

“School can’t is a crisis of exclusion. Students are being forced out of rigid, commodified and under-resourced educational systems that are not fit to meet their complex needs.

“Families experiencing school can’t aren’t able to access appropriate support for their children or themselves, and their physical health, mental health and financial well-being suffer as a result.

“The next Education Ministers Meeting must put this issue squarely at the top of the agenda.”