Improving School Enrolment and Attendance through Welfare Reform
The Commonwealth Government is committed to improving educational outcomes for children by linking school enrolment and attendance to parents' welfare payments.
Welfare reform is an important element of the Government's commitment to prevent child abuse and neglect under the National Child Protection Framework.
There is a link between low educational outcomes, increased welfare dependency and involvement in the justice system. The measure aims to increase enrolment and regular attendance at school of compulsory school aged children whose parents receive income support in several trial communities. All parents within the selected locations will be required to provide details of their child's school enrolment to Centrelink. Parents who are doing the right thing, and have their children enrolled in school and attending regularly, will not need to do anything further.
Parents who fail to provide enrolment information to Centrelink without a reasonable excuse will have their income support payments temporarily suspended. Once these parents enrol their child, or provide enrolment information, their payments will recommence.
Parents will also be expected to ensure their children are regularly attending school. In instances where a child is not attending regularly, the relevant state/territory authority can inform Centrelink. Parents will be required to show they are actively trying to improve their child's school attendance. Those who fail to do this will have their income support payments suspended until action is taken.
This measure will be rolled out in the 2008-09 financial year in selected locations across Australia. Six communities in the Northern Territory and two additional sites in metropolitan areas in other jurisdictions will be selected for the initial roll-out.
This measure will complement and extend other collaborative work between the Australian and state/territory governments, such as the schooling aspirations and outcomes agreed recently by COAG. The Australian Government is also providing funding for 200 additional teachers in the NT (50 per year over four years from 2008-2011). In recognition of this provision of 50 new teachers in 2008 in remote NTER schools, the NT Government has committed to a goal of 500 new enrolments in the 2008 calendar year in those schools.
Total Government Funding
$17.6 million over three years.