The Nationals will have a zero tolerance approach to bullying in government schools if elected in November.
Melina Bath, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region and the Liberal Nationals’ Shadow Assistant Minister for Education said a new anti-bullying program would be rolled out in all government schools across the Morwell electorate. This would replace the current Safe Schools program.
Ms Bath said the $15.3 million plan would place more focus on teaching respect and consideration for others from early childhood, right through to VCE.
“Learning to respect everyone regardless of gender, religion, sexuality, race, ethnicity, family circumstances and appearance begins in our homes and schools,” Ms Bath said.
“Research commissioned by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation found that almost 25 percent of Victorian school students are bullied at some stage during their time in school.
“This has a terrible impact on young people in our communities. When you couple bullying with a lack of mental health services, as is the case in many of our communities, you have a recipe for disaster.
Sheridan Bond, The Nationals candidate for Morwell said, “Victims of bullying often suffer from behavioural problems, and self-esteem and confidence issues, not to mention the impact bullying has on their ability to concentrate and perform at school.
“I am very concerned about the impact bullying has had on the mental health and wellbeing of young people living in Latrobe Valley and I welcome this initiative.”
The Nationals Zero Tolerance on School Bullying policy is based on a four point plan:
- The implementation in all government schools of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation’s anti-bullying program based on four foundations – information, intervention, prevention and communication.
- A three strikes policy where serial bullies who have failed to change their behaviour after two warnings and commit another act of serious bullying, are required to attend a disciplinary hearing with the School Principal, their parents and the parents of the victim.
- Backing school principals who make the tough call to expel serial bullies who have, despite repeated warnings, not improved their behaviour and are putting the safety and welfare of students at risk.
- Recognising and rewarding school children who are an up-stander and not a bystander.
The program will be rolled out across all government schools across the Morwell electorate in partnership with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation while independent and Catholic schools will be able to choose to opt-in to the program, at their discretion.
Ms Bond said The Nationals’ had also announced a policy to ban mobile phones in classrooms to limit distractions for young people which will complement the zero tolerance on school bullying.