Strengthening responses to bullying within and beyond the school gates will be the key focus of a new nation-leading bullying prevention strategy released by the Marshall Liberal Government today.
Initiatives under the strategy are driven by evidence-based research and include actions targeted both within and beyond the school gates.
The strategy has been developed by the Education Department through the South Australian Bullying Prevention Coalition, which includes Catholic and Independent school sectors, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, government departments and leading bullying prevention researchers.
The Coalition will also guide the implementation of the strategy.
Education Minister John Gardner, who released the strategy today, said that keeping children safe from bullying is a key priority for the Government.
“Bullying doesn’t start and finish at the school gate, it is a community-wide issue that demands a whole of community response,” said Minister Gardner.
“Our children deserve to undertake their studies and live their lives in a safe and nurturing environment, free from harassment, discrimination and bullying.
“We have consulted extensively on developing this strategy and the message from South Australians is clear – bullying of any kind is totally unacceptable and we must adopt a community approach to prevention that works beyond the school gates. This statewide strategy will achieve just that.
“The establishment of this strategy provides a shared road map for how the South Australian community can work together to keep children and young people safe from bullying.
“We want communities around children and young people to recognise and address bullying, to model positive and respectful behaviour within schools, sporting clubs and community groups.
“Over the past 12 months, the Education Department has worked hard in driving several initiatives that support this strategy, including piloting the PEACE Pack initiative and supporting schools through with specialist staff such as Student Wellbeing Leaders and Behaviour Support Coaches.
“The state bullying prevention strategy builds on this existing bullying prevention work and establishes new initiatives that are likely to have the greatest impact for children.”
Actions within the school gates include:
- strengthening bully prevention policy requirements and compliance measures in schools
- providing evidence-based curriculum content for children to learn about bullying, cyberbullying and online safety
- a targeted expansion of the PEACE Pack program based on the findings of the pilot
- providing all teachers with access to foundational training about supporting students who are at higher risk of bullying
- piloting the Friendly Schools program across all public schools in the Greater Gawler partnership
- providing new resources and training for teachers, students and families about bullying; and
- a partnership with the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia to support student-led bullying prevention initiatives in schools.
Actions beyond the school gates include:
- piloting a community recreation program in the City of Playford council area, strengthening children’s involvement in community programs
- an initiative that will see young people advise decision makers and urban planners about the establishment of safe child and youth-oriented spaces; and
- a comprehensive consultation process across the major sporting codes, led by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, to develop child-designed bullying prevention initiatives.
The Education Department has already actioned several items to support the strategy, including completing an audit of all public schools’ bullying prevention policies to ensure that schools are meeting the minimum requirements, a pilot of the PEACE Pack program in primary schools and funding of $138,000 to support the participation of 288 government schools in the 2019 National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.
You can read the full bullying prevention strategy here.