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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3847

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (09:57): I rise today to congratulate the students and teachers of Southern Cross Catholic College at Scarborough, who on Friday joined with me in standing up and saying 'No way!' to bullying in our schools. On Friday 740 students and 55 teachers of Southern Cross Catholic College, along with Bracken Ridge McDonald's owner Ron Chiapello and I, dressed in orange T-shirts to represent ending bullying in our schools and took to the sporting fields of Southern Cross Catholic College to support the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.

This national day, implemented by the Labor government, is about raising awareness of the impact that bullying has on kids and taking a stand against it. Friday was an important opportunity for schools, parents and local communities to come together and say, 'We will not tolerate bullying in our schools, online or in our community.' Too many of us know the serious impact bullying has on the safety and happiness of our kids and the lasting impact it can have on them well into adulthood. We know that one in six students is bullied weekly and one in four students is bullied at least once over a period of a few weeks. Furthermore, research by Edith Cowan University, which looked at students between year 4 and year 9, revealed that around 10 per cent of school students are bullied most days.

These statistics are horrifying. As adults we would not tolerate this sort of behaviour in the workplace, and I believe strongly as a parent and in my role as the federal member for Petrie that our kids should not have to go to school every day, every week, afraid of what is waiting for them when they get to the bus stop or when those lunch bells ring. I would like to read a quote from a student leader of Southern Cross Catholic College, Captain Brittney Govender, who, when asked about bullying at her school, said this:

It would be naive to say bullying does not happen at our school, but we wanted everyone to be reminded that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what our differences are.

Brittney is right. Our kids should not have to tolerate bullying in the playground, online or anywhere else because everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As a government, Labor has worked hard to address these issues that go to the core of who we are and who we want to be as a nation. I believe Australia is a nation of tolerance, acceptance and diversity, and these core values begin in the home and in our schools, where the experiences of our kids shape the adults and leaders they become.

Labor is working with the states and territories to implement the National State Schools Framework, which will support schools to take a proactive approach to developing safety and wellbeing policies such as addressing bullying and cybersafety. We have already launched the Cybersafety Help Button—a free desktop application for kids which provides information about counselling services, reporting abuse and dealing with online risks such as cyber bullying—on top of committing $125.8 million over four years to develop the cybersafety plan.

In closing, I would like to especially thank Southern Cross Catholic College principal Greg Myers; Majella Thompson, from Southern Cross Catholic College, for her outstanding support and assistance in bringing the event together on the day; Bracken Ridge McDonald's owner Rod Chiapello, who always goes above and beyond in the fantastic work he does; and school captains Ravneel Sharma and Brittney Govender. I would like to say a special thank you to Daniel Szabo, a year 12 student who approached me a week and a half ago wanting to take action on bullying. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members' constituency statements has concluded.