Information in the menus below was updated in September 2020. To contribute information that may be of interest to others in your country, please contact your country’s hosts: Glenn Melvin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lisa McKay-Brown (email@example.com).
People, groups, and organizations
Not for profit
- The Navigator Program is funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training and provides support to young people aged 12-17 years who are not connected to school at all, or are at risk of disengaging.
- The ‘In2School’ project is based at Travancore School in Victoria. The project is delivered in partnership between the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health (RCH MH), and Travancore School. It is aimed at students aged between 11 and 15 who have been refusing to attend school, and who have an anxiety and/or mood disorder diagnosis. In2school brings teachers and clinicians together to assess, plan, and implement needs-based, personalised programs for each young person. Support is provided at home, in the clinic, and in the classroom. Each intake is of 6 months duration and aims to help youth return to mainstream school settings. Chief Investigators: Dr Lisa McKay-Brown (University of Melbourne), Professor Lorraine Graham (University of Melbourne), Dr Ric Haslam (RCH MH).
- CatholicCare in Victoria provide support to families where a child is experiencing school refusal
- The School of Special Education Needs: Behaviour & Engagement in the Southwest Education Region of Western Australia, in partnership with the Regional Engagement & Transition Team, Department of Education Schools, Headspace –Youth Focus, and Relationships Australia are trialling a school refusal strategy in a K-12 College to address attendance concerns from a Regional context. This strategy has seen the development of an Interconnected Services Framework between the schools’ already existing PBS implementation and School Mental Health Providers. This strategy is focussed on a multi-tiered response to addressing school engagement by identifying school wide systems to support/increase engagement, increase additional support to ‘indicated at-risk’ students utilising Tier 2 interventions, and interconnecting school mental health providers at Tier 3 for the ‘moderate to severe at-risk’ students, with whole school practice. This strategy will be developed to identify anxiety in school refusers and individual support plans that address the type of anxiety that students present with, matching the intervention to the type of anxiety. Eventually the program will then become part of a trial being developed in partnership with the University of Western Australia in an online Cognitive Bias Modification program as an intervention to decrease anxiety around school attendance. Contact: Stephen Johnson, Program Coordinator SSEN, Behaviour & Engagement,
- Australian academics working in the field of school attendance problems:
- Associate Professor Glenn Melvin, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne.
- Dr Lisa McKay Brown, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.
- Dr Kirsten Hancock, Research Fellow in the Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, Telethon Kids Institute, Perth.
- Dr Dawn Adams, Griffith University, Queensland.
Current and upcoming activities and achievements
- Attention School Staff: Tell us, what has been happening for you? Dr Lisa McKay-Brown and A/Prof Glenn Melvin are keen to learn from school staff about their experiences of and thoughts about school attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Are the kids who are missing from home schooling the ones you thought might struggle? Have some thrived during home schooling? How has the transition back to class been? Please email Lisa or Glenn to share your thoughts.
- 2020 June and September, Dr Lisa McKay-Brown will be providing virtual workshops on multi-tiered responses to school refusal in education settings for the Association of Independent Schools NSW and the Office of the Senior Practitioner, ACT Government, respectively.
Past activities and achievements
- 2020: The ‘Kids & Teens at School (KiTeS)’ project was funded by the Australian Research Council. The project investigated of the types of attendance problems experienced by primary and secondary school students with an intellectual disability. It also explored biopsychosocial factors associated with school non-attendance. Chief Investigators: A/Prof Glenn Melvin (Monash University), Prof Kylie Gray (University of Warwick, UK), A/Prof David Heyne (Leiden University), Prof Richard Hastings (University of Warwick), A/Prof Vaso Totsika (University College London), E/Prof Bruce Tonge (Monash University). Data collection has recently finished and findings are expected in 2020. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2018 October: A/Prof Glenn Melvin and A/Prof David Heyne facilitated two workshops on school attendance. The first workshop was entitled ‘A School-Wide Approach to Enhancing School Attendance: The Review, Prioritise, Respond Model’ and it included a guest seminar from Dr. David Zyngier from the Faculty of Education at Monash University. The second workshop was for clinicians and was titled ‘Managing School Refusal: An Evidence-Based Approach’. It addressed the types of school attendance problems, the presentation of school refusal, and cognitive behavioural interventions to support young people, their parents, and school staff.
- 2017 June: A team from the Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology at Monash University in Melbourne (Glenn Melvin, Bruce Tonge, Amanda Dudley, Ester Klimkeit & Eleonora Gullone) published the findings of a clinical trial that examined whether adolescents with school refusal would benefit more from cognitive behavioural therapy and an antidepressant medication compared with cognitive behavioural therapy on its own. All three treatments resulted in improved attendance for the adolescents. Adding fluoxetine did not offer any advantage over CBT alone or CBT and placebo in terms of attendance levels.
Helpful links and other resources
- COVID related resources for parents involved in home-schooling:
- Each state’s Department of Education has resources for parents on schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- University of Sydney has provided resources for parents working at home with kids during COVID-19.
- Telethon Kids Institute provides tips and hints for supporting kids during COVID-19.
- Beyond Blue on supporting children and young people during coronavirus pandemic.
- Headspace has developed a fact sheet that addresses online schooling and working from home for families
- On the Mental Health Foundation Australia website there are a range of information there for families impacted by the pandemic restrictions and other stresses such as the summer bushfire devastation in parts of Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
- Be You school refusal fact sheet.
- SchoolTV has a new resource on school refusal.
- Raising Children presents information about school refusal among children aged 5-8 years.
- School-Link Program in NSW published a handout for parents.
- Associate Professor Jade Sheen and Amanda Dudley published an article on School Refusal for parents in The Conversation.
- Travancore School, a mental health focussed special education setting, has created a website that includes resources for school, parents/carers and young people.
- School Phobia / School Refusal Australia is a parent-created site that aims to provide a forum to support parents and carers of school refusing young people.