Unexplained student absences

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If there's an unexplained student absence, government schools must contact parents or carers as soon as practical on the same day as the absence.

What schools must do

The process is:

  1. Identify students with an unexplained absence after the first attendance recording each day.
  2. Crosscheck all known student absence information to ensure only unexplained absences are identified.
  3. Notify the parents or carers of these students as soon as practical on the same day. This should happen in the morning. If the student is in out-of-home-care, notify the student's carer.
  4. Allow time for the parent or carer to respond.

Use the checklist for schools for unexplained student absences (docx - 326.58kb).

If a parent or carer cannot be contacted

This may happen if your school does not have up to date contact details for a parent.

In this instance, attempt to make contact with any emergency contacts nominated on the child’s file. This should happen on the same day as the unexplained absence where possible.

If the parent does not provide an explanation

If a parent has been contacted and the student’s safety has been established, but no explanation has been provided within 10 school days, the absence should be recorded as unexplained.

If you receive an explanation from the parent later, update the attendance record to ensure the accurate reason is recorded.

Five days of unapproved or unexplained absence

If a child reaches five days of unapproved or unexplained absence over a 12 month period, then the school should work with the parent to improve attendance.

This includes implementing an intervention or plan to assist the student to attend school and remain during school hours.

If the intervention does not improve the student's attendance, the principal may decide to make a referral to a school attendance officer.

Schools should document the process and measures they will use to follow-up unexplained student absences in their attendance policy.

Distance education

Students in distance education must attend scheduled online sessions, respond to tasks online and engage with teachers as required. If this does not happen when expected, the leading teacher for engagement will contact the parent or carer.


For students in school-based apprenticeships or traineeships, same day absence notification only applies on the days they are scheduled to be at school.

When a SBAT is scheduled to be at training or a workplace, students are responsible for notifying their employer, training provider and school if they are unable to attend. See the 'Role of the apprentice or trainee' in the School-based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs) (pdf - 1.67mb) in Victoria.

Independent and mature age students

Same day notification still applies to students who are 'independent' or are mature age and are absent from school without explanation. The notification will be made to the nominated contact person who may be the students themselves.


The safety and wellbeing of students are our highest priorities. Same-day notifications for unexplained student absences reflect community expectations that:

  • schools need to know when and why a child is absent
  • parents need to know if their child is not at school.

Information sheet for schools on same-day notification of unexplained absences

Parent responsibilities

Parents are legally required to ensure their child attends school every day or provide an explanation for their child's absence.

They have an obligation to notify the school as soon as possible on the day of the absence using the school’s preferred method (which could be via phone, email or an app) or inform the school in advance of any upcoming absences.

Fact sheet for schools to give to parents (docx - 327.28kb)