22 Apr 2008 3:02 PMJann Stuckey

22 April 2008

Member for Currumbin Jann Stuckey will lobby for State Government support for a Gold Coast-based liaison officer to help implement strategies to combat widespread truancy among secondary school students.  Ms Stuckey plans to approach the Minister for Education and The Arts, to consider funding a truancy officer to co-ordinate absenteeism for the entire region.

This follows a meeting of police, school representatives, parents and commercial retailers at Ms Stuckey’s office this afternoon to discuss strategies, aimed mainly at secondary schools on the southern Gold Coast.  

“I called the meeting after reports of increasing truancy rates at schools in the area and an independent report at Logan where up to 800 students were absent for a third of the year,” said Ms Stuckey

“Key stakeholders shared current school procedures and useful information about behaviours at local shopping centres and near private residences.

“The suggestion of a school-based police officer for our high schools, similar to the position in place for several years at Robina High School received approval from the group.   However, I am told by the Police Minister that no further appointments are being made while the system is under review. 

“From all accounts the school-based officer program has proven to be well worth the cost as a police presence within the school acts as a deterrent for bullying and other anti-social activities.

“It is important to note that overall only a small percentage of students skip school and it happens across the Gold Coast’s 16 state secondary schools.  A co-ordinated approach to truancy in the form of a central liaison officer on the Gold Coast would provide us with an audit as to the extent of the problem.

“Palm Beach Currumbin State High School has a community liaison officer who is employed until the end of June to handle truancy issues at the school.  Both PBC and Elanora State High said they had processes in hand in which students had to account for their days away from school and new computer system ID Attend allows for each student to be electronically marked at each lesson at Elanora.   

“The group agreed to report back in one month with an update on the issue. It is to be hoped we will have received replies back from both Ministers to enable us to plan further strategies.