These procedures are intended to assist School Attendance Officers to enforce compulsory school enrolment laws set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, as amended by the Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Attendance) Act 2013, and the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2007.
All Department Regional Directors have been re-appointed as School Attendance Officers by the Minister for Education. These guidelines only relates to Regional Directors in their roles as School Attendance Officers.
School Attendance Officers must operate within the Code of Conduct (available prior to 1 March 2014).
These guidelines applies to all Victorian schools, including non-government schools.
The information below provides guidance on each of the stages of the enforcement process:
- Receiving a referral
- Making enquiries
- Sending a School Enrolment Notice
- Assessing the response to the School Enrolment Notice
- Deciding to Issue an Infringement Notice
- Sending an Infringement Notice
- Bringing proceedings in Court
Receiving a referral about a child or young person who appears not to be enrolled in school or registered for home schooling
Any person may make a referral to a School Attendance Officer about a child of compulsory school age who does not appear to be enrolled in school.
Any person making a referral is encouraged to use the referral form as this form will ensure they have all the required information before making a referral, see: Community (docx - 45.51kb)
A School Attendance Officer may accept a referral by another method if it includes all the required information.
In order to make enquiries and send a School Enrolment Notice, the School Attendance Officer will need to know:
- the full name and date of birth of the child; and
- the name and address of a parent responsible for that child’s school enrolment.
If a referral is received in writing with contact details, the School Attendance Officer should send an acknowledgement receipt to the person who made the referral, stating that the matter is being investigated. If insufficient information is provided, the School Attendance Officer should notify the person that the referral had insufficient information and the matter cannot be investigated unless further information is provided. The School Attendance Officers should record the information they do have in case subsequent referrals are made about the same child or young person.
Before sending a School Enrolment Notice to a parent, a School Attendance Officer must have a belief on reasonable grounds that the child is not enrolled at a school or registered for home schooling. To establish this belief, the School Attendance Officer is authorised to check if:
- there is a record on the Victorian Student Register that the student is currently enrolled at a school
- there is a current or pending registration for home schooling with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications and Authority (VRQA)
- the child is enrolled at the designated Victorian government school.
If a current enrolment is found, the School Attendance Officer is to notify the relevant principal that there are concerns in relation to the child’s attendance. The principal should then monitor the child’s attendance. If attendance issues are ongoing, the principal should refer to the procedures outlined in the School Attendance Guidelines and, if considered appropriate, make a referral back to the School Attendance Officer.
Poor attendance or disengagement from school may trigger referral to a re-engagement program.
If a registration for home schooling is confirmed, the School Attendance Officer should notify the VRQA that there are concerns as to whether the child is receiving instruction and advise that the VRQA may wish to make further investigations.
If no current enrolment or registration for home schooling is found, the School Attendance Officer should send a School Enrolment Notice.
Reporting concerns: referral to Child FIRST or report to Child Protection
During the process of following up concerns around a child’s enrolment or engagement in education, a School Attendance Officer may form the view that a child is not being supported by parents to participate in education, or that the level of a parent’s support for a child’s enrolment at school is inadequate. This lack of parental support for participation in education, with or without other evidence of harm, may lead to concerns about cumulative harm to a child, or concerns that the child and their family need the assistance of family services.
If, following consideration of available information, the School Attendance Officer forms the view that lack of parental support may have a low to moderate impact on the child, where the immediate safety of the child is not compromised, a referral to Child FIRST should be considered.
A referral to Child FIRST is the best way of connecting vulnerable children and their families to the services they need to protect and promote healthy development. For more information, see: Child FIRST
A referral to Child FIRST may be suitable in situations where families are exhibiting or reporting factors that may impact on the child’s participation in education such as:
- significant parenting problems
- family conflict, including family breakdown
- families under pressure due to a family member's physical or mental illness, substance abuse, disability or bereavement
- young, isolated and/or unsupported families
- significant social or economic disadvantage that may adversely impact on a child's care or development.
On receiving a referral from a School Attendance Officer, the Child FIRST team will conduct a further assessment of the family and may consult an experienced community-based child protection worker who is based in each Child FIRST team. This assessment may lead to the involvement of a local family services organisation. Child FIRST will inform the School Attendance Officer of the outcome of their referral.
Where a Child FIRST team or a registered Family Services organisation forms a view that a child or young person is in need of protection they must report the matter to Child Protection.
If a School Attendance Officer forms a belief that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm, or is in need of immediate protection, they should make a report to Child Protection.