Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 - Bullying No Way
The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Minister for Early Childhood and Youth

The Gillard Government will provide $4 million to develop new online toolkits to help parents, teachers, those training to be teachers, and students deal with school bullying, School Education Minister Peter Garrett said today.

Mr Garrett made the announcement during the first ever national anti-bullying forum at Parliament House today, which brought together education experts, teachers, parents, psychologists and young people to discuss what strategies work and what more the community needs to do to deal with bullying.

The forum’s key theme was parent and family engagement and participants discussed opportunities to build school and parent partnerships through school-based activities, better information and active leadership.

The Government will now explore options for developing an Australia-wide social media campaign and a national “hub” of resources and information for parents, schools and students, two of the key ideas suggested by participants today.

“One of the main issues that emerged today is the need for a national education and awareness campaign that includes all schools, reaches into as many homes as possible and really helps increase people’s understanding of bullying and what they can do about it,” Mr Garrett said.

“So I’ve instructed the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to develop options for a national social media campaign that we can roll out in partnership with state and territory governments and the non-government school sectors.

“It’s really important that we get help and advice to as many students as possible, and the best way to do that is communicate using the social media platforms that young people engage with every day.”

Today’s forum discussed that while there are many resources already available for schools and parents, there was no national hub of information that people could access.

The Government will now look at how it can expand its existing website, www.bullyingnoway.gov.au, to transform it into the central, trusted source of information and resources for the whole community.

“We want to develop a ‘one-stop shop’ so everyone knows where to go for help,” Mr Garrett said.

“Finally, the other key theme that emerged today was the need for every school to have a ‘Safe School Plan’ in place so that everyone at the school has clear, practical guidelines on how to deal with bullies and provide help and support for students experiencing bullying.

“We already have in place the National Safe Schools Framework which provides guidance to schools on how they can develop these plans. I want to take it a step further and make sure that this results in every school developing and implementing its own approach.

“I’ll be encouraging state and territory education ministers to work with the Commonwealth on this issue when I provide a report on today’s forum during our next ministerial council on Friday.”

Mr Garrett said the forum also provided directions for the development of the new online tools announced today. The toolkits will be developed by Education Services Australia and will include:

• A central, online information resource that helps parents deal with bullying – including advice on what to do if their child is being bullied, or if their child is involved in bullying;
• A training module for pre-service teachers to build awareness and understanding of the National Safe Schools Framework, so that graduate teachers have the skills necessary to deal with bullying when they first enter the classroom;
• Resources for student support staff, such as school counsellors, school chaplains and student welfare officers to help them provide support and advice to students; and
• Professional learning resources for teachers and principals to help them develop safe school policies.

Education Services Australia will also compile case studies of schools who have successfully implemented anti-bullying strategies, which will be available for principals and teachers to access so they can learn what works and develop ideas for their own school.

The new resources will be rolled out for the 2013 school year and will be available at www.bullyingnoway.gov.au.

Mr Garrett said research from Edith Cowan University revealed that one in five students have experienced some form of cyberbullying, which parents and teachers were growing increasingly concerned about.

“Today’s young people deal with issues and challenges that simply didn’t exist for their parents. It’s really important that we as a community send a clear message to bullies that their behaviour is unacceptable, whether it’s online or in the playground,” he said.

“Today’s forum was a great example of how important it is to discuss this issue and work together to help eliminate bullying in our schools.

“As one of today’s participants pointed out, Safe Schools are Smart Schools. Every student needs to feel secure at school so they can get a good education and go on to be happy, confident and successful adults.”

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The Hon Peter Garrett MP

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W: www.bullyingnoway.gov.au

Keywords

school bullying strategies for coping

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