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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2193

National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (15:05): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Will the minister update the House about the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence? What is the government doing to address bullying and to help students, schools and parents deal with this important issue? How are schools in my electorate of Moreton taking part?


Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:05): I thank the member for Moreton for the question. He has had over $90 million approved in 150 projects in schools in his electorate for libraries and multipurpose halls, and I know how important education is to him. It has been an important week for education. We started with the announcement by Minister Bowen and me of new special measures to make sure that graduates have the skills that they need when they get into schools and into classrooms. We had, with the Prime Minister, the launch of My School 2013, an important website that provides more information than ever before for families and school communities around Australia about how students and schools are going. This morning we read of some of those success stories. I have a bit of pride, if I can indulge, in Maroubra Bay Primary School in my electorate. It is doing very well under the National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy.

But I am asked about bullying. It is an important issue, I know, for everyone in the House. Some of the statistics are challenging, with around one in six kids bullied weekly. Sometimes it is even more. Certainly in terms of online bullying we are seeing increasing incidences around Australia. It is troubling. It is troubling for parents and schools. We all know that it can have really terrible consequences.

We have the National Safe Schools Framework. It is the first of its kind in the world, developed with advice from experts, and we are providing extra resources for the National Safe Schools Framework so that there are good resources available for each school. We have a cybersafety help button for kids if they get into strife online. There is a 'Bullying. No Way!' website which contains particularly important information.

Tomorrow is the third National Day of Action Against Bullying. I have been very pleased to launch the national day and to endorse it. More than half a million students will be out there saying, 'We will take a stand together because there is no place for bullying or violence in our schools.' It is an important national event. I certainly appreciate the support we have had from media outlets, particularly in Queensland, around it.

This year we ran the first Safe Schools are Smart Schools competition for schools to highlight what they have been doing to address bullying. The member for Moreton will be pleased to know that one of the outstanding entries in the competition came from a school in his own electorate, the Warrigal Road State School. They have got a good program, the Playground Buddies Program. It is a peer mentoring program that is focused on safety, where buddies show that they are a good role model and help those students who need support. What have we seen? A safer school environment, less incidence of bullying reported in school and fewer kids saying that they did not have anyone to play with. This is a really important day for schools around Australia and for the community. We ask everybody to take a stand against bullying.


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (15:08): Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for his answer, particularly the mention of Warrigal Road State School. How is this national day consistent with the government's approach to the education portfolio more generally?


Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:09): I am happy to take that supplementary question from the member for Moreton. The fact is that we have put in place those measures and policies which deal with a range of issues that young people face in schools in Australia. That is about making sure they get the support they need in literacy and numeracy. It is about making sure they get the support they need from improving teacher quality. It is about making sure that parents and the school community have the information that they need—that is the My School website. It is about having national leadership and national standards to deliver the best possible education for young students. That is a national curriculum and that is national standards for teachers and for principals as well. It is also recognising that there are some tough issues for kids in schools, where things like bullying can have a real impact on the child's life in school and what happens afterwards. That is why a National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, which we support, is particularly important.

I spoke about the National Safe Schools Framework. We need to have a national plan for school improvement which makes sure that the National Safe Schools Framework is embedded in the plans in every school, not only to lift the performance of students in their school but to make sure the school is doing every single thing it can so that the students' learning journey is the best it can possibly be. We are committed to that course of action.

Ms Gillard: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.