26 September 2023

Audit finds disjoined school students left loose

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A performance audit into a Department of Education and Training (DET) program to support students who have disengaged from school has found that students did not benefit enough from the program.

Established in 2016, DET’s Navigator Program was designed to support Victoria’s most disengaged students aged 12 to 17 years.

In his Report, Effectiveness of the Navigator Program, Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves said the students were often highly vulnerable with complex barriers to re-engaging with school.

“DET cannot demonstrate Navigator is an effective intervention at a program level or that it is delivered equitably,” Mr Greaves said.

“DET’s data collection means that it cannot clearly demonstrate Navigator’s effectiveness over time,” he said.

“Students do not have equitable access to Navigator.”

Mr Greaves said students’ access to Navigator varied, depending on where they lived, and that referrals of eligible students varied across the State, as did the support students received at school before being referred to the Program.

The Auditor-General said some areas referred about 40 per cent of eligible students and some referred less than 15 per cent.

He said that Statewide, the proportion of eligible students referred to Navigator was about 21 per cent.

“This indicates inconsistent school practice in referring students to Navigator,” he said.

“However, DET does not communicate to schools whether it expects them to refer all eligible students.”

Mr Greaves said DET expected schools to support students who disengaged from their learning and provided guidance and resources to schools to do this.

However, he said three-quarters of students referred in 2019 had not received individualised support from DET’s Student Support Services, which included social workers, visiting teachers, psychologists and other allied health professionals.

“This indicates that not all schools make full use of DET’s student support programs and workforces,” he said.

“Demand for Navigator exceeds the number of available places in the Program across Victoria and some students wait longer for services, depending on where they live.”

Mr Greaves made four recommendations to DET, three aimed at improving access to the Navigator Program and one aimed at improving the Program’s effectiveness.

The Auditor-General’s 40-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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