Dialog Box

CatholicCare Victoria

School Refusal Support

Supporting students to engage in school

School Refusal Support provides counselling support to help students re-engage in their education.

We support students, families and schools to understand and deal with the complex issues that can cause non-attendance at school, and help reduce young people’s anxiety around school attendance.


Tailored counselling support and guidance

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 professional counsellors can help by providing: 

  • assessment and counselling for children, adolescents and their families
  • early intervention for students showing anxiety or the first signs of school refusal
  • confidential support from our counsellors
  • family and school support to keep young people attending school
  • referrals to specialist services
  • consultancy support for schools
  • family therapy 

The best solution is prevention

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.

What does school refusal look like?

A student who is expressing school refusal behaviours will often show signs of anxiety, fear or distress, and may also 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

How do I access the service?

Families can access this support by calling the location listed below.

Schools, community agencies and youth mental health service providers can also refer young people by contacting us.

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


School Refusal Support sessions are charged on a sliding scale – this means that the fee per session is dependent on your income.

If you want to access this support on behalf of a school, please contact us to discuss fee options.

More information

Want to know more about school refusal, the early warning signs and the difference between school refusal and truancy?

Download the information sheet below, which includes an early signs checklist for school refusal:

Download the information sheet 

Child Safety Client rights and responsibilities 

Contact us

School Refusal Support is offered in Dandenong and Gippsland. 

To access or enquire about this service, please contact your nearest office.

Dandenong Pakenham 


Other services

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