This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

School Refusal

There are a number of underlying factors as to why a student may be refusing or not attending school such as bullying, family issues, stress, learning difficulties and curriculum. In order to support a student re-engaging in school these issues need to be explored.

School Refusal

  • Reluctance or refusal to attend.
  • Usually at home with parental knowledge.
  • Severe emotional upset (tantrums, feeling unwell etc )

Unauthorised Absence/Truancy 

  • Attempts by student to conceal absenteeism from parents/teachers.
  • Student often avoids home when absent from school.
  • Relates to 5-20% of young people.
  • Incidence of increases with age.
  • Most not coping with school academically.

School Withdrawal

  • Is often condoned by parents.
  • Holidays.
  • Shopping trips.
  • Medical/dental appointments.
  • Birthdays.
  • Support/help at home.
  • Support for an unwell parent.
  • Education is not highly valued.



  • Explore the underlying factors as to why a student may be refusing or not attending school.
  • Provision of a flexible curriculum.
  • Tracking, recording and monitoring absences.
  • Quick and consistent follow up with the student and their family.
  • Cooperation between school and parents.
  • Engage with the student so that they feel like part of the school.
  • Access community supports.
  • Develop a coordinated plan with student, family and school to support the student in reengaging in school.


  • Encourage a regular pattern of your child attending and arriving on time at school.
  • Provide the school with an explanation if your child is away.
  • Contact the school if your child does not want to go to school.

Useful Resources

It’s Not OK to Be Away: Student Attendance Support Kit – Department of Education & Training Victoria

Premier’s Drug Prevention Council – Truancy Resource Booklets - A guide for the student welfare coordinator booklets.