The State Liberals today unveiled a package of measures to tackle bullying in schools, including replacing the controversial Safe Schools program with a broad evidence-based anti-bullying program with particular focus on stopping online bullying.
The Liberals have committed to build upon current legislation to make it easier to prosecute bullies where appropriate, and to ensure penalties reflect the harm caused by bullying.
“More than one in four students in Australia in years 4 to 9 are bullied every few weeks or more – it is a sad and unacceptable statistic,” said Shadow Minister for Education John Gardner.
“The figures get even worse when we’re talking about cyber-bullying. Parents and schools need support to deal with this insidious phenomenon which threatens our children even when they’re at home, where they should be safe.
“Government must display leadership and give support to schools, students, and their families. We need an evidence-based, comprehensive approach to tackle bullying that covers the broad range of things that children and teenagers are bullied about, as opposed to the narrow approach of the Government’s ‘Safe Schools’ program.”
The controversial Safe Schools Antibullying Initiative is currently the only statewide antibullying program funded by the State Government.
A Marshall Liberal Government will take serious action to tackle bullying in schools by:
- ensuring all schools maintain strictly enforced anti-bullying policies which address all types of bullying including cyber bullying and other non-physical forms of bullying;
- ending funding to the Weatherill Government’s ‘Safe Schools Antibullying Initiative’, and instead providing evidence-based, comprehensive anti-bullying resources to schools, including curriculum resources – along the same lines as is working in New South Wales;
- providing training and support services for teachers and students;
- developing new resources for students and teachers to help schools detect and respond to online bullying;
- strengthening legislation to make it easier to prosecute bullies and to ensure penalties are appropriate.
“Importantly, a Marshall Liberal Government will develop an approach and resources that specifically address online bullying to keep our children and teenagers safe.”