Dialog Box


School Refusal Support

Supporting students to engage in school

Our School Refusal Support program offers early intervention for young people who have anxiety and difficulty attending school.

We support families to understand and deal with the complex issues that can cause non-attendance at school. This program aims to reduce young people’s anxiety and re-engage them with their education, and provide family and school support to keep young people attending school.

Non-attendance can happen during a stressful life event or period of transition in a young person's schooling or family life (e.g. moving from primary to secondary school, family breakdown, moving house and school, etc).

Young people may also develop a fear of school attendance or become disengaged as a result of trauma at school or home (e.g. bullying, parental conflict, family violence, etc).

Our counsellors are qualified professionals trained in a range of disciplines including psychology, family therapy and social work. They specialise in working with young people and work holistically with parents/carers and the school community.

How does the program work?

Counsellors seek to understand and help young people with their reasons for non-attendance or school refusal. They work closely with appropriate members of young people's and family's networks, including child and youth mental health service providers, school counsellors, GPs and other professionals.

Our School Refusal program takes an integrated approach including: 

  • assessment and counselling for children, adolescents and their families
  • early intervention for students showing anxiety or the first signs of school refusal
  • parent and teacher information workshops
  • confidentiality for students, parents and schools
  • referrals to specialist services
  • training for school administrators and teachers
  • consultancy support for schools
  • family therapy 

How do I know if a young person needs support?

A student who is expressing school refusal behaviours will often show signs of anxiety, fear or distress, and will often be embarrassed about their inability to attend school. The student will stay home or leave school with the parent’s knowledge, despite their efforts to enforce the child/teenager’s attendance.

School refusal can present in a number of ways:

  • crying spells and upsets before school
  • frequent physical complaints like headaches and stomach aches
  • fear of some teachers and/or other students
  • refusing to return to school after a weekend, holiday or illness

When a few missed days extend to a longer period of time, this can have serious consequences for a young person's social, emotional and academic development and their long term mental health and wellbeing.

Early intervention is important, so we encourage families and schools to contact us as soon as they notice a problem.


Our School Refusal Support program is available to all students in Catholic, State and Independent schools.

How do I access the service?

Referrals can be made in the following ways:

  • families can self-refer
  • schools can refer young people
  • community agencies and child and youth mental health service providers can refer young people and and families


There is a schedule of fees based upon a clients' income and their ability to pay.

More information

Contact us

For more information on this program please contact our Dandenong office:

T: 03 8710 9600

E: Dandenong@ccam.org.au


Other services

You might also be interested in some of the following services offered at CatholicCare: