How bullying is being eliminated in Australian schools

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) launched the National Safe Schools Framework in 2011 with the belief that ˜all students should be able to learn and develop in safe and supportive environments'.

The framework places an emphasis on student wellbeing and child protection, as well as the need to respond to emerging technologies (such as social media and smartphones) and their effect on bullying in Australian schools. Each state and territory has its own anti-bullying policy:

Non-government schools will usually have their own anti-bullying procedures. Check with your child's school for details of its policies and initiatives.

New South Wales
The New South Wales Government's Preventing and Responding to Student Bullying in Schools Policy sets out the requirements for preventing and responding to bullying in the state's government schools and preschools. The policy applies to all bullying behaviour, including cyberbullying, and covers incidents that occur both on and off school premises, as well as during or outside of school hours. Schools are expected to develop an anti-bullying plan in collaboration with students, school staff, parents and caregivers, and the general school community. Among other criteria, the government urges schools to:

  • develop a shared understanding of bullying behaviour
  • develop and implement programs to prevent bullying
  • develop and implement early intervention support for at-risk students
  • develop and publicise clear procedures for reporting of bullying incidents
  • identify patterns of bullying behaviour and respond to developing patterns.

The policy also recommends that schools update parents and caregivers on its progress and the management of incidents.

Queensland schools use the Code of School Behaviour to promote high standards of achievement and clearly articulate responses and consequences for inappropriate behaviour. According to the code, students are expected to actively participate in the school's educational program; take responsibility for their behaviour and learning; demonstrate respect for themselves, the school environment and other members of the community; behave in a way that respects the rights of others; and cooperate with staff and others in authority.

Released earlier this year, Keeping Queensland Schools Safe urges governments and schools to keep children safe from violence and bullying, and consider the implications of mobile phones and communication devices in schools particularly when used for cyber bullying. It emphasises the need to recognise cyberbullying as a behavioural rather than technological problem and the need to provide professional development sessions for staff to help prevent cyberbullying.

The Queensland government also provides a toolkit for parents to address bullying, which identifies forms of bullying and aims to increase parents' awareness.

Anti-bullying guidelines were introduced into Victorian government schools in 2006, providing advice to schools on strategies to prevent bullying. In 2010, the Victorian Government's Building Respectful and Safe Schools was published as a resource for school communities to help create and maintain a ˜respectful and safe school environment'. The government reports that since the 2006 guidelines were introduced there have been significant developments in the approaches taken by the state's schools specifically those targeting the increasing use of digital technologies.

The report identifies bullying in schools as a shared responsibility and urges teachers, parents and school leadership teams to get involved and provide support to affected students.

Most recently, Education Minister Martin Dixon invited Victorian students to take a stand against bullying by naming the Coalition Government's new anti-bullying campaign. For more information, refer to the Name the campaign website.

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