Australian billionaire launches campaign to boost school attendance

Melbourne, June 30 (IANS) Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest has launched a campaign aimed at boosting school attendance in the outback.

Forrest, a Western-Australian billionaire and well-known philanthropist, has proposed that families will only be eligible for government welfare payments if they ensure their children attend school regularly, Xinhua news agency reported.

Forrest, head of Fortescue Metals Group, has called on the Federal government to employ this new policy to fight the trend of “rank child abuse”, where thousands of Australian families on welfare payment have failed to send their children to school.

Forrest’s campaign would mean these parents who allow truancy to be cut off from receiving Family Tax Benefit payments of up to $5,087 per child, until their children’s attendance improves.

“The stupid, soft-minded policies which are creating this huge gap are denigrating and decimating our kids,” Forrest told NewsCorp on Thursday.

Forrest, whose wealth is estimated at $2.5 billion, believes this approach could be used to protect children from a failed education.

The passionate Australian, who spends a lot of time in indigenous communities, has been urging for welfare penalties associated with school attendance since 2014. He argued there is now more technology to adopt the strategy.

Another key of Forest’s campaign is to end “soft racism”, with a particular focus on some indigenous communities where a lower school attendance may be accepted compared to other areas.

Forrest is reportedly planning to launch a TV advertising campaign raising awareness for the plan.



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