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Federal bullying program languishes.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Lyn Allison Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Victoria Australian Democrats spokesperson for Education & Training

Dated: 01 April 2005

Press Release Number: 05/145 Portfolio: Education & Training Related: Children & Youth Affairs

Federal Bullying Program Languishes

The Australian Democrats have warned the Federal Government is likely to end funding for the National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF) in the next Budget.

Democrats Leader Senator Lyn Allison who first proposed the initiative to put anti-bullying programs in schools, said recurrent funding for schools was conditional on the NSSF but there is still no sign of money for its implementation.

NSSF development funding is due to end in 2005 and the Government is giving every indication it will not find more money, Senator Allison said.

In response to a Democrats question on notice the Minister replied, "Decisions in regards to ongoing funding for anti-bullying initiatives beyond 2005 have yet to be made".

Senator Lyn Allison, an ex-teacher said that with a $12 billion surplus the Government should be easily able to help schools become safer.

NSSF funding of $4.5 million in 2004 and 2005 in one-off grants to 168 schools across Australia was a good start but now is the time for an ongoing commitment in these and the remaining 9,607 schools," Senator Allison said.

Bullying is a very serious problem in schools, leading to poor educational outcomes and social and mental health ramifications throughout life. Expecting a handful of pilot programs and some text books to eliminate bullying is fanciful. Schools need the expertise and the resources to tackle the problem on an ongoing basis.

On Wednesday, the NSW Teachers Federation called for the NSW government to back up its rhetoric by providing greater resources to schools for dealing with bullying. Key approaches of the National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF) first announced in 2002 included:

Appropriate pre-service and in-service training for all staff about bullying, violence, harassment and child protection;

A curriculum component enabling students to recognise and report abuse; understand power in relationships; develop protective strategies; and create healthy relationships; and

Parent participation including parent information sessions, workshops and joint child-parent homework.