I rise to inform the House of a report by Dr Ruth Morton, commissioned by LeadWest, on young people aged between 10 and 14 of the western suburbs of Melbourne who are falling out of school. This report, using Census data, identified the alarming situation where 2,680 students—that is, six per cent—across six LGAs, including my electorate, are not attending school. Educators worked tirelessly to follow up on absences and adopt processes to ease the transition for students moving from primary to secondary school. Many schools employ attendance officers and welfare officers to provide the much needed support to students and families to keep students engaged at school. Whilst national partnerships money has supported this work in recent years and allowed success stories of re-engagement, transition and improved attendance for at-risk students, federal cuts to this funding will impact negatively. There has been a failure to understand that schools receive no specific funding for this critical work. Without funding, more vulnerable young children aged 10 to 14 will drop out of the system.
I commend Mr Craig Rowley, CEO of LeadWest, and Dr Ruth Morton for their work and commitment to the development of this report. I am sure that schools and local councils will be pleased to see the issue highlighted and would welcome any support from governments to reduce the number of such young students not attending school at such a critical time in their development.