Canberra Carers’ Struggles Brought to Light: the Impact of School Refusal

  • Canberra Carers’ Struggles Brought to Light: the Impact of School Refusal image

Carers ACT has long witnessed the distress experienced by carers when the children they care for struggle to attend school – directly dealing with the profound impact this has on carers, families, communities and schools in the ACT region.

“While COVID-19 put a spotlight on the issue, in reality the carers of Canberra have grappled with this issue for years. The recent Senate Inquiry’s findings have finally validated these concerns and we welcome their report,” Carers ACT CEO Lisa Kelly said.

“The release of this comprehensive report empowers Carers ACT to continue advocating for enhanced local support in this area to alleviate the challenges faced by carers and the students they care for, ensuring the right to education is upheld for all.”

The concerns highlighted in the Inquiry into the national trend of school refusal and related matters are universal and cover a range of issue faced by carers in the region.

“For example, at Carers ACT, we have witnessed the lasting financial strain on carers due to reduced employment, caused by issues like school refusals. This leads to lower superannuation, diminished prospects of owning a home, and reduced savings, just to name a few,” Ms Kelly added.

Carers ACT, amongst others, has called for a number of areas to be addressed, to assist carers to ensure the children they care for have access to education, understanding and care. Many of these are now recommendations within the report.

“We advocated for the implementation of a uniform method of data collection on school refusal that is similar across all Australian education departments and schools in order to better understand the problems, and distribute resources according to need,” Ms Kelly said. “We are so pleased to see this reflected in the report.”

“We also emphasised the need for using cautious language to avoid amplifying stigma around school refusal. The Report acknowledges this, and the potential for any misunderstanding to isolate parents and carers during critical times.”

Carers ACT also highlighted the need for enhanced education and training for healthcare professionals, particularly school wellbeing teams and psychologists, to effectively address school refusal. The report’s alignment with this recommendation is welcome and timely.

The Report mirrors Carers ACT’s observations regarding the demand for flexibility within mainstream educational environments. This flexibility encompasses various learning approaches, including online resources

“The Inquiry Report acknowledges the challenge carers face when public health services are overwhelmed. Carers play an essential bridging role when navigating advice from both schools and private providers, especially when resources are limited. We must empower them,” Ms Kelly added.

“We now look to the Federal Government to implement these recommendations.” Carers ACT’s submission can be accessed below.

Submission

 

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