Victoria Parents Face $70 Fine For Kids’ Habitual School Absences

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 11, 2013 3:31 PM EST

Effective 2014, parents residing in Victoria, Australia, could be slapped with a $70 fine for the unexplained or habitual absences of their children from school, in a proposed law where parents become more the targets of their children's poor schooling attendance behaviour.

Specifically, the proposed law will pursue parents whose children are absent for at least five days a year. Failing to work with school authorities to improve attendance is likewise a ground for a scheduled conference with the principal's office.

"What we're talking about here is a minority who are away often and away for no good reason for at least five days," Education Minister Martin Dixon told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

"Principals have said to us on a number of occasions there are always one or two families within their schools where this fine might apply."

Legitimate excuses for school absences include illness, a limited amount of family travel or cultural celebrations. A child needing rest or multiple holidays is not part of the list.

Problem parents who fail to provide valid and legitimate excuses for their children's school absences would then be issued with school attendance notices. If they fail to provide a valid excuse, an infringement notice will then be issued.

If that's bad news, well the good news could be that the fine amount is 50 per cent off the prevailing fine implemented in 2006, which is $140.84. No parent has been fined under the existing law because parents are first required to be taken to court before any fine can be imposed.

"A child's regular attendance at school is critical in their academic and social development," Mr Dixon said.

"On a very small percentage of occasions, parents neglect that important duty, and we need to send a very strong message."

The draft legislation has been released for public comment for 30 days.

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