Children Who Are Homeless Miss Out On Education

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20th October 2010, 07:27pm - Views: 1042

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Date: 21 October 2010

Subject:  Children who are homeless miss out on education

A significant difference can be made to the educational engagement of children who are homeless

through stronger collaboration between schools and support agencies according to a report

released today by Hanover, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Foundation for Young


By the completion of the two year Education Development Project, funded by the Federal

Government, twenty five of the twenty eight students supported by Hanover and the Brotherhood of

St Laurence were still in school.

Tony Keenan, CEO of Hanover Welfare Services explains the experience of homelessness makes

staying at school even more difficult for children and young people.

“It is well known that moving schools has a devastating impact on children’s engagement with

school.  For children in families experiencing homelessness this is exacerbated ten fold.  Not only

do they move from one form of emergency accommodation to the next but many also move from

one school to the next. Forty five percent of the students involved in the Education Development

project had moved schools four or more times in their young lives.”

Children who are homeless have lower school attendance, a higher prevalence of early school

leaving and lower levels of educational attainment than their peers.

However the research reveals that children’s participation in education significantly improves when

schools and support agencies work more closely together. 

The report, released today, looked into the impact of greater collaboration between student, parent,

school and support agencies.  The study showed that positive outcomes can be achieved by greater

collaboration with improvements in school attendance, attitude to learning, reading and writing and


“The project has demonstrated the benefit of having better, more proactive systems of collaboration

and exchange in place between schools and support agencies” said Tony Nicholson, Executive

Director of Brotherhood of St Laurence

This alone however will not solve the problem of early school leaving for children experiencing



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“The costs of school education are also a significant barrier to completing school for students living

in poverty” continues Tony Nicholson. “State and Federal Governments need to look at ways to

reduce the costs for disadvantaged families to send their children to school.”

Tony Keenan agrees and argues a different approach is also needed to provide housing to families

with school aged children.

“The way the housing system works at the moment, families can be moved three or more times

once they enter the homelessness support system.  This can lead to an even greater disruption to

children’s schooling.  Priority needs to be given to finding accommodation for families that enables

their children to stay at the same school.”

The report includes twenty one recommendations as to how Government, schools and support

agencies can improve educational outcomes for children experiencing homelessness. Key

recommendations include:

Australian and State Governments should work to reduce the costs of schooling

Improving transfer of information between schools when students do move

Schools and homelessness support agencies consider ways in which to establish learning

support to assist students who are behind their peers

Priority be given to families who are homeless in allocating public housing to enable

students to remain at school.

A copy of the report can be found on the Hanover and Brotherhood of St Laurence websites.


Media Enquiries:

Celeste Harrison – Hanover Welfare Services on 9695 8353. 


Established in 1964, Hanover is a leading Melbourne agency which provides services to people

experiencing homelessness or housing crisis. Approximately people seek our assistance each year,

6,000 of these are dependent children. Hanover takes its name from its first location in Hanover

Street, Fitzroy.  Hanover is independent; it has no structural links with churches, institutions or


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