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SA parents to face fines over truancy

JOHN GARDNER

Parents will face fines of up to $5000 if they fail to attend meetings about their child's school truancy, under new laws proposed in South Australia.

The policy, which aims to tackle "chronic absenteeism", will compel parents to attend formal family conferences with principals and relevant staff in order to address truancy issues.

"Parents must take responsibility for their children's education and we owe it to our children and young people to take decisive action," Education Minister John Gardner said on Monday.

"While the overwhelming majority of South Australian parents do the right thing by their children, unfortunately not all parents place sufficient importance on getting their children to school."

The legislation, set to be introduced to parliament this week, was included in the new government's plan for its first 100 days in office.

Mr Gardner slammed the previous government's policy of issuing parking fine-style expiation notices for non-attendance, and said fines under the new system will be more useful as a threat than a penalty.

"The only circumstances in which we are going to be taking people to court are where there is an unwillingness, a refusal to engage through the family conferencing system in the first instance," he said.

"A court would take into account the capacity to pay what is going to be a meaningful fine in those instances."

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