Truancy bus has plenty in the tank

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Members of the Hedland Schools Attendance Strategy to help at risk children attend schools.
Camera IconMembers of the Hedland Schools Attendance Strategy to help at risk children attend schools. Credit: Alexander Scott

The brakes will not be put on a vital school-bus strategy slashing truancy rates in Port Hedland, with tens of thousands of dollars worth of funding keeping it speeding ahead for the next two years.

WA Police, Department of Education and the local Youth Involvement Council introduced the vehicle earlier this year as part of the Hedland Schools Attendance Strategy, which led to 76 students returning to class.

It came after a parliamentary report, published last year, revealed 16 per cent of Pilbara children were not enrolled in school.

The State Government recently pumped $96,000 into the program to allow the agencies to continue for the next two years.

As part of the measure, children are transported to Cassia, Baler and South Hedland primary schools and Hedland Senior High School.

Baler Primary School principal Bruce Blay said the extension of the Hedland Schools Attendance Strategy bus would be hugely beneficial to all Hedland schools.

“As much as it is helping to improve student attendance, it is also a valuable link between schools and the families who use the service,” Mr Blay said.

“The Hedland network attendance co-ordinator plays a vital role in the communication between families and schools, as do the police and Department of Communities staff who provide a link with the families and their agencies.”

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said one of the best ways to reduce juvenile crime was to ground children with a strong education.

“This is an excellent step forward in creating a positive future for the youth of Port Hedland,” she said.

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said the program had improved school attendance for local Hedland students by “leaps and bounds”.

“Our local students are the future of the Pilbara, and this strategy will encourage their development through their education journey,” Mr Michel said.

The Department of Education provided a similar grant in July to extend the program until the end of 2019.

Family business Hicks Civil and Mining also contributed to the measure earlier this year.

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