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Greens will oppose Truancy Bill in Senate

The Australian Greens today responded the Rudd Government's bill to allow welfare payments being cut, by vowing to oppose the passage of the legislation in the Senate.

"It is telling that the first piece of legislation Julia Gillard has introduced to enact the promised ‘education revolution' in our schools is a punitive and populist measure that targets the families of disadvantaged children - and is likely to make their lives all the harder," said Senator Siewert today.

"I am appalled that the Government thinks this type of approach is the way to deal with this complex social problem."

"The Rudd Government needs to be looking at the social, economic and educational problems that contribute to truancy problems, rather than rely on penalizing measures such as welfare quarantining and suspension," she said.

"If the Government are truly concerned about overall truancy levels, why is it only poor and disadvantaged families on income support who are being targeted - when we know that troubled kids from all walks of life will cut school?"

"The Government is showing no duty of care for families once their payments are suspended. There is continued talk about an 'education revolution', but there is nothing revolutionary in this knee-jerk punitive approach," said Senator Siewert.

"Where is the evidence base that this punitive approach will actually work? The real factors behind poor school attendance are the failures of the education system in some regions to deliver appropriate early childhood and primary education, and provide educational and social support services for disadvantaged families."

"Rather than attempting to punish struggling, low-income families, the Government should be focusing on the underlying causes of increased truancy and delivering a real education revolution so that kids want to be at school," concluded Senator Siewert.

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