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Several months ago I was asked by a neighbour-friend, ‘Mrs James’, to help her get her eleven year-old son, ‘Stephen’ and eight year-old daughter, ‘Katherine’, back to school. Mrs James was in hospital in Sydney at the time, recovering from a serious operation, while Mr James, an invalid pensioner, was trying to look after the two remaining children at home. (An older son is with foster parents).
Stephen had missed more than 100 days of school in 1988 and had not returned to school in 1989. Katherine had a somewhat better attendance record but had stopped going to school when her mother went off to Sydney. Stephen’s and Katherine’s absences had been drawn to the attention of the home-school liaison officers.