Guidelines for school attendance officers and all Victorian schools, including non-government schools to enforce school enrolment.
Enrolment laws are set out in the:
- the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, as amended by the Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Attendance) Act 2013
- Education and Training Reform Regulations 2007.
The stages of the enforcement process are:
- Receive a referral
- Make enquiries
- Send a school enrolment notice
- Assess the response to the school enrolment notice
- Decide to issue an infringement notice
- Send an infringement notice
- Bring proceedings in court
School attendance officers must operate within the code of conduct.
Receive a referral
Any person can make a referral about a child of school age who does not appear to be enrolled in school or registered for home schooling.
The person making the referral is encouraged to use this referral form to make sure they have all the required information:
Community (docx - 45.51kb)
A school attendance officer may accept a referral another way if it includes all the required information.
The officer will need to know:
- the full name and date of birth of the child
- the name and address of a parent responsible for that child’s enrolment.
If the referral is received in writing and includes contact details, the officer should send an acknowledgement, stating that the matter is being investigated.
If not enough information is provided, the officer should notify the person that the matter can't be investigated until more information is provided. The officer should record the information they do receive in case more referrals are made about the same child or young person.
An officer must have a belief, on reasonable grounds, that a child is not enrolled at a school or registered for home schooling before they can send an enrolment notice to a parent.
To establish this belief, the 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 officer is to notify the relevant principal that there are concerns about 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. If considered appropriate, they can make a referral back to the school attendance officer.
Poor attendance or disengagement from school may trigger referral to a
If a registration for home schooling is confirmed, the officer should notify the VRQA that there are concerns about whether the child is receiving instruction. The officer should also advise that the VRQA may wish to make further investigations.
If no current enrolment or registration for home schooling is found, the officer should send a school enrolment notice.
Report concerns: referral to Child FIRST or report to child protection
While investigating a child’s enrolment or engagement an officer may form the view that:
- a child is not being supported by parents to participate in education, or
- 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.
A referral to Child FIRST should be considered if the officer considers all available information and forms the view that:
- lack of parental support may have a low to moderate impact on the child, and
- the immediate safety of the child is not compromised.
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:
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.
Once they receive a referral, the Child FIRST team will do an assessment of the family and may consult an experienced child protection worker. This assessment may lead to the involvement of a local family services organisation. Child FIRST will inform the attendance officer of the outcome.
If 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.