Submission on the exposure draft Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Attendance) Bill - Mar 2013

This Bill establishes a process for issuing infringement notices (fines) to parents who have not enrolled their child at school, or whose child is not attending school without a reasonable excuse. It potentially engages rights to equality before the law, privacy, freedom of expression; and the right to be presumed innocent under the Charter

The Commission is concerned that the infringements system exacerbates financial hardship and may have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people with disabilities.

Whilst the Commission appreciates that infringements are part of a broader suite of interventions aimed at addressing the underlying causes of non-attendance, our submission argues that the Bill requires additional safeguards to ensure that it does not disproportionately affect disadvantaged people, with unintended consequences. In particular, stronger safeguards are needed to ensure that infringements are only issued as a last resort after all compliance strategies have been explored.