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School truancy measures are punitive, not progressive: Greens

The Australian Greens today condemned the Federal Government's plan to suspend the welfare payments of families of children who fail to attend school.

"Where is the evidence base that this punitive approach will actually work?" asked Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"What evidence is there that it is only the kids of welfare recipients who are not attending school?"

"What happens to these families when their payments are suspended?"

The Greens are highly critical of this approach and point to the failure of the Halls Creek trial, in which linking welfare payments to school attendance did not improve school attendance.

"The Government continue to talk about their ‘education revolution', but there is nothing revolutionary in this knee-jerk punitive approach," she said.

"Income management is a very blunt and ineffective tool to address the complex problem of children who are being failed by our education system and do not want to be at school," said Senator Siewert.

"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 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."

"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," said Senator Siewert.

"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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