Information in the menus below was updated in February 2023. 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
- Associate Professor Lisa McKay Brown, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne
- Dr Kirsten Hancock, Senior Researcher, Australian Education Research Organisation, Perth.
- Associate Professor Dawn Adams, Griffith University, Queensland
Current and upcoming activities and achievements
- The Australian Senate Standing Committees on Education and Employment is holding an Inquiry into “The National Trend of School Refusal and Related Matter”. Submissions are now closed but submissions and other information about the Inquiry can be accessed here.
- Multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for school attendance problems (SAPs) in Australia. This research project is a partnership between A/Prof Lisa McKay-Brown (University of Melbourne), A/Prof Glenn Melvin (Deakin University) and A/Prof Patricia Graczyk (University of Illinois Chicago). We will be examining the use of MTSS for SAPs in schools particularly focusing in prevention and early intervention.
Past activities and achievements
- 2020 June and September: Dr Lisa McKay-Brown provided 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Parent Guidelines for School Refusal and Reluctance. New evidence-based parenting guidelines for parents of primary and secondary school-aged children who are struggling with school attendance have been released. Developed by A/Prof Marie Yap (Monash University), A/Prof Glenn Melvin (Deakin University) and E/Prof Tony Jorm (University of Melbourne), these guidelines are intended for parents who are worried about their child’s engagement with school and those whose child is already experiencing school reluctance or refusal.
- Be You school refusal fact sheet
- Australians Dr. Lisa McKay Brown and A/Prof Glenn Melvin contributed to a new book on School Attendance Problems published by the Swedish Jerring Fonden. The book is available for FREE download here.
- School Refusal was in the media with concern about increasing rates post Covid-19 related school closures. Read the article
- Listen to a podcast about school refusal from the perspective of families. Listen here.
- 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 is also available.
- A/Prof. 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.