Police play part in truancy action plan
A new initiative to combat truancy in Marble Bar has had startling results, with school records showing a rise in average attendance from 75 to 90 per cent since its introduction last month.
In February, Marble Bar police teamed with Marble Bar Primary School and other local agencies including the Department of Child Protection and Department of Human Services to raise dwindling attendance figures during term 1.
Sergeant Todd D’Souza said truancy had been an ongoing challenge in the community, with children as young as six regularly not attending school.
“For many it boils down to laziness on behalf of the parents and not knowing the bigger picture and the impacts on their child’s future,” he said.
“The principal had concerns about a couple of families in particular who were just rotating kids. Between myself, the school principal, DCP and social security services, we decided we would work together to secure these kids’ future.”
Sgt D’Souza said the co-ordinated approach had seen instant results, with attendance raised across Marble Bar Primary School for three consecutive weeks.
He said the key to the initiative’s success was taking a proactive approach to address the underlying issues preventing young people from staying in school.
“I have no problem knocking on every door to clarify a child’s whereabouts when they don’t turn up to school,” he said.
“I have been working with other agencies to educate parents on the overall impacts of missing out on education and how these bad habits are restricting kids from further education and job opportunities.
“We have also been emphasising to the community that social security has a truancy policy which affects payments and this has been a great backup for us.
“Word has definitely got around that we are taking a serious approach to truancy … we are slowly changing the mindset of the community, which is a real credit to the parents and agencies involved.”
Education Department Pilbara regional executive director Neil Darby said schools worked hard to boost attendances but could not curb truancy without the full support of parents and other agencies.
Sgt D’Souza warned the initiative would remain successful only if parents and community members continued to take ownership of the truancy problem.