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Response to truancy blitz - an inter-agency approach

Browns Plains Police have spearheaded a response to increasing crime in the area by forming the Community Crime Consultative Committee.

The committee, comprising community stakeholders including representatives from Browns Plains State High School, Grand Plaza Shopping Centre, security firms, Logan City Council, Queensland Transport and Neighbourhood Watch, meets each month at the police station.

Browns Plains State High School principal Jan Klotz is an active member of the committee seeing it as ideal opportunity to canvas community support against truancy.

"One of the key issues discussed by Queensland Police and committee members was the development of an inter-agency approach towards truancy and recognition that truancy was not solely an issue for schools," Ms Klotz said.

In the Browns Plains area a range of strategies are used to tackle the problem of truancy including:

As part of their objective to develop a working partnership with Education Queensland, police at Browns Plains formulated a coordinated response for a three day 'Truancy Blitz' in August 2009, with a subsequent follow-up after the September vacation.

The actual 'blitz' involved two uniformed police officers working between Browns Plains and Park Ridge State High Schools. The police utilised resources such as trail bikes and mounted police who could patrol in heavy bushland areas. The police were also supported by the school chaplain and support officer.

Ms Klotz said the blitz had proven to be very successful with an excellent response from the community at large.

"Overall the blitz has raised community awareness. Shops in the area have signs in their windows saying they won't serve students in uniform during school hours.

"The police were able to contact parents of long-term school refusers and we have now been able to bring them back into the system or into alternative education.

"Parents have been very receptive. Most parents want their kids to come to school and are happy to get the extra support from the school," Ms Klotz said.

In addition to the interagency work, as part of its Every Day Counts strategy, the Browns Plains State High School introduced the ID Attend system in 2009 to notify parents by text message when their student was absent from school.

This system complements the streamlined and co-ordinated approach to managing absenteeism that currently exists, through daily contact with parents, standard letters home after two days unexplained absences, follow-up correspondence and working with the youth support co-ordinator, chaplain, nurse, year co-ordinator and deputy principal throughout the process.

Ms Klotz said the school aimed to engage all students in learning; to encourage all students to be at school all day every day and to inform parents, in a preventative manner, about any issues regarding student attendance.

"When students who have been truanting are brought back to school, parents will be notified, students will be appropriately counselled and a truancy monitoring plan will be implemented to ensure future safe engagement in schooling," she said.

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