THE Baillieu government has not issued any truancy fines to parents whose children missed school without a good excuse, despite last year announcing a crackdown on absenteeism.
Education Minister Martin Dixon said in June he would introduce tougher laws to make it easier to fine parents without the need to go through the courts.
Under laws introduced in 2006 that have never been enforced, parents can be fined $140.84 for every day their child wags school without a valid reason. The Coalition has repeatedly insisted it would apply the penalties, despite Parents Victoria and the Australian Education Union warning the fines were punitive and would put further pressure on vulnerable students.
''We think it's very important for children to be at school as much as possible and in some cases parents might be fined,'' Mr Dixon said on the ABC last year.
He said he hoped to have new legislation before Parliament by the end of 2012 to make it easier to penalise repeat offenders. There is still no sign of it, however, and seven years after the former Labor government introduced the truancy penalty under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 not a single fine has been issued.
When in opposition, Mr Dixon lambasted the former government for being ''too incompetent and lazy'' to enforce the truancy laws.
''Under Labor's soft approach to school discipline, no fines have been issued to the minority of parents who allow their children to miss school and miss out on an education,'' Mr Dixon said in June 2010.
This week a spokesman for Mr Dixon said the government was continuing to refine legislative options to address the ''absurd situation'' left by the former Labor government, where any parent subjected to that part of the act would have to be taken through a full court proceeding.
Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy was relieved no fines had been issued: ''I'd be appalled if any government did it.''
She said threatening families with penalties for absenteeism caused further problems and did nothing to create a supportive environment for students to return to school.
''The government wants to portray this as: 'We want discipline back in schools' [but] it targets people who are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged and puts them in the spotlight rather than being supportive and getting them back on track.''
Ms McHardy said the government should focus on providing more welfare staff in schools to help families.
Opposition education spokesman James Merlino said: ''Since taking office the Baillieu government has in fact cut programs, like the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning [VCAL] and School Focus Youth Funding, that actually keep at-risk kids engaged and involved in school.''