"I am a lawyer who graduated from Melbourne Law School just a few short years ago. I am also a person who received no formal education from the age of eight years old, until l managed to find a pathway when I was 22 years old (when I entered a classroom physically shaking from nerves).
Firstly, I would like to thank the authors for the effort to research and publish on this important topic, one which is close to my heart. While I have been exceptionally fortunate to have managed to forge a path to find a solid education, it has been a long and difficult journey and I can't help but wonder how the path would have unfolded differently should there have been mechanisms in place to detect that I (and my sisters) were not receiving an education, and to have made efforts to engage us in formal education (and to support my mentally ill mother). I am grateful to see efforts being made to help children in a similar situation.
Secondly, I thought it may be of interest to share elements of my story to highlight one particular way in which children can be detached from formal education: using the guise of home schooling. I was not disengaged from school, but was forcibly removed from school at age 8 by my parents and forbidden from returning (and in this way, detached from the system). My mother was (and remains) very ill, both mentally and physically, and while her intention may have been to provide my sisters and I with an education, this did not occur. Instead I was given a handful of textbooks to last all of 'high school', told I could read them if I wanted but that being able to read and write was sufficient (and told that as a woman, I would just get married and have children). Anytime I asked to go to school or attend some sort of course I would be yelled at for several hours. I was deeply depressed and miserable for my entire adolescence.
Due to the verbal abuse, I was fearful of expressing my desire for schooling outside the family or my concerns about the quality of our education, and had limited opportunity to do so given that we were very isolated from the world.
In this way, 'home schooling' can provide a cover for neglect. I know of others in the 'homeschool' community who had similar experiences. Therefore this situation is another subset to be aware of- where a child is desperate for schooling, and parents are more or less against the idea and use 'home schooling' as a cover."
*Not her real name