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Frustrated Truancy Service Lashes Out at Schools

Frustrated Truancy Service Lashes Out at Schools

Thursday 12 Sep 2002 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education

The Truancy Service's criticism of schools for failing to keep tabs on children reveals the frustration felt by truancy officers around the country, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"I commend Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS) manager Ron Novis for his honesty in criticising schools for failing to check students attend another school when they transfer, and alert NETS if the child has dropped out of the system. This failure makes it ten times harder for the truancy service to ever find a child.

"We cannot just blame schools though. Under-resourced principals have been buried in needless paperwork by the bureaucrats and Education Minister Trevor Mallard. Although heart-breaking, it is understandable that some stretched principals would prefer a troublesome child just quietly drops out.

"Improvements can only come at a national level. The clear answer is to create a centralised database to monitor enrolments. Former Education Minister Nick Smith promised to do this and he failed. Truancy rose as a result. Mr Mallard made the same promise. Last term he did not deliver. What we must now do is ensure that Mr Mallard is held to his promise.

"I extend an invitation to Mr Smith, Mr Mallard and education spokespeople from every party to join a cross-party accord to ensure this happens within the next three years.

"Of course, we also need to ensure NETS is funded appropriately - both Mr Smith and Mr Mallard capped the service's funding. It receives the same amount of money today to look for the 4,048 children referred since January, as it did five years ago, when 3,000 children were referred in an entire year.

"And we need to make sure - as promised by both Mr Smith and Mr Mallard - the Education Ministry takes responsibility for prosecuting the parents of long-term truants.

"Kids as young as seven should not be able to completely drop out of our education system. We owe it to our children to give them a decent start in life, and I call on Mr Mallard and Mr Smith to listen to the truancy officers and work together so we can solve this problem," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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