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Date posted: 1 June 2011
The latest report card on closing the education gap in the Northern Territory shows a significant drop in school attendance in remote Aboriginal communities, despite the existence of several programs designed to get more children going to school.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says 'We know if you're not going to school, it really is not going to be possible for you to get a decent education'.
Attendance at school is a legal requirement and compulsory for all children. The Australian Government has said it would stop family allowance payments to people who didn't send their kids to school.
Northern Territory's Education Minister, Dr Chris Burns, says new legislation passed earlier this month means parents will soon being facing the prospect of being fined if their children miss school.
'School attendance is really the responsibility of parents,' he said. 'So we are working with communities and parents, we've certainly brought in Our Every Child, Every Day strategy which does have a number of measures, including fines and infringement notices of value of $200 to further convince parents that they should be sending their kids to school.'
While Dr Burns concedes the school attendance figures in remote communities are bad, there are some exceptions, for example, at Gunbalanya there has recently been a 20 per cent increase in the number of students coming to school every day.