Specially targeted programs designed to keep students safe from cyberbullying will roll out across 55 Queensland schools, augmenting existing cybersafety initiatives and cementing a commitment to stamping out an increasingly prevalent issue.
The program has attracted $750,000 in funding and is backed by the Palaszczuk government in partnership with Dolly’s Dream and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation — two charities that aim to change the bullying culture found in schools and communities.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk believes that cyberbullying is one of the gravest issues facing society today.
“Cyberbullying enables the troubles young people experience through the day just don’t end at the school gate.
“Yes, the internet is a great place for students to learn and socialise. Sadly, however, there are so many traps and risks out there just waiting to snare and damage them.
“We are working proactively with Dolly’s Dream and the Alannah and Madelaine Foundation to better equip parents and schools,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“It’s imperative we teach our school communities about online behaviours, social media and the tools needed to tackle cyberbullying.
“That’s exactly what these eSmart programs are all about.
“It’s encouraging to see such a large mix of state and non-state schools right round Queensland have applied to be part of this latest vital initiative,” she said.
Education Minister Grace Grace said the state is committed to doing everything it can to help stamp out this insidious problem and as a community, we’re doing it together.
“The partnership with Dolly’s Dream and the Alannah & Madeline Foundation is a key feature of the government’s $3.5 million ongoing commitment to implement the recommendations of the Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce.
“This is just one of the ways we can reach all corners of our state and further educate our children that cyberbullying is unacceptable, it’s hurtful and it’s dangerous,” Ms Grace said.
“As part of the new initiative, an officer from the Alannah & Madeline Foundation will be located in Queensland to ensure schools receive timely support, if and when they need it.
“And there are already a number of cybersafety programs in place across Queensland state schools. As part of our eSmart programs, schools are able to roll out the eSmart Schools Framework, hold workshops for parents and teachers and provide digital licences for individual students.
“The value of the programs ranges from $500 to $14,000 depending on each component of the program and the number of students involved,” Ms Grace said.
Alannah & Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta welcomed the opportunity to work with more Queensland schools.
“We have to do everything we can to make sure children are safe from cyberbullying.
“Being able to work with so many Queensland schools gives us the opportunity to educate more students, teachers and parents, and to raise awareness of the potential risks of cyberbullying,” Ms Podesta said.
The number of cybersafety programs already in place across Queensland state schools are:
- The Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group (SSSC) provides advice on bullying, harassment and violence for teachers, parents and students through the Bullying. No Way! website.
- A specialist Bullying Response team of senior officers is in place to respond immediately to referrals for urgent advice and support to families affected by bullying.
- The SSSC also delivers the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, held in March ever year.
- The Department has a dedicated team of specialists in the Cybersafety and Reputation Management Team (CRMT) to help schools to respond to and prevent inappropriate online behaviour.