Media release: 2 November 2011
Minister Kevin Humphries' call for a NSW program to link Centrelink payments to school attendance will hurt struggling families and do nothing reduce truancy, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye (ABC Online "NSW lobbying to link welfare to school attendance" http://bit.ly/v5q8oG)
Dr Kaye said:"The last thing that families need whose children have poor school attendance records is to have their Centrelink payments cut as punishment.
"The key to getting children to school is to increase funding for quality public education services.
"Children who may be struggling at school and are not attending need smaller class sizes and access to comprehensive support services like school counselling - not have their families welfare payments cut.
"Families who are experiencing social and economic hardship need help getting their children to attend school. The last thing they need is to have their Centrelink payments reduced.
"Mr Humphries is targeting some of the most vulnerable households in NSW. He would financially disadvantage those who can least afford it.
"As the Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries should realise the detrimental impact that linking welfare payments to school attendance will have on family relationships.
"It is crucial that the O'Farrell Government looks to ways to make sure all students have access to a quality education regardless of their family circumstances.
"If Minister Humphries is concerned about children not getting access to a quality education he should sit down with his colleague, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, and talk about the huge funding inequity between public and private schools in NSW," Dr Kaye said.
Greens candidate for the Clarence by-election noted that if Kevin Humphries' seat of Barwon was being proposed for this program, then it wouldn't take long before the scheme were extended to Clarence.
Ms Cavanaugh said: "Clarence, like Barwon, has pockets of disadvantage where truancy and anti-social behaviour are a problem. Punishing the whole family is not the solution.
"We know that early disadvantages tend to accumulate. There needs to be an investment in child services and quality public education - not punishment to entrench social disadvantage," she said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455