Page 719 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

concerns as to her motivation for doing so. Her “anything for a headline” approach to an issue does not lend enough weight to this matter, in my view. I will come to that.

Mr Speaker, in addressing the issue of bullying as it applies to schools—I stress to all schools, in every jurisdiction and in every society—it is important to look at the problem in the context of the rights of children and young people. Let us not make a mistake here. Government schools are not the only schools where this problem occurs. The implication by Mrs Dunne that the schools, the department and the minister have to own up to something or other is, somewhat cowardly, that it is only a government school problem. That implication, that suggestion, is totally rejected.

Mr Speaker, all children and young people have the right to live in a safe and supportive environment, free of violence and intimidation. As a society, our most sacred trust is to keep our children safe. Bullying, harassment and violence are issues not only for schools but our whole society. At home, at work and in sporting teams, in all areas of life, there will always be those who are unwilling or unable to treat others appropriately. Some might suggest that even this Assembly is not immune.

Children, unfortunately, all too often witness bullying behaviour by adults and leaders in our community who should know better. We all need to ensure that we model respectful behaviour towards one another and that our children learn from that example. Although it is important that schools do their part here, it is equally important that we not lose focus on the roles and responsibilities of parents and carers. Schools play an important part in helping students to understand the importance of respecting others and tolerating differing views, opinions and values, but that can only be an adjunct to the upbringing and learning derived from parents and carers at home.

Children learn values from their parents and carers and can be taught to understand cooperation and respect from a very early age. Sadly, for many students, school is the safest place from the troubles they face at home or in the community. Schools help students deal with incidents of bullying. They can also play a vital part in breaking destructive cycles of behaviour to develop individuals who are able to build successful relationships with others.

ACT schools, all of them, aim to build inclusive learning environments that recognise and value the unique abilities, insights and needs of all students. That builds social cohesion in the school community by encouraging students to understand and learn from one another. Inclusive school cultures also support students to stay engaged in learning, reducing the feeling of frustration and alienation, which can lead to inappropriate behaviours, and leading to improved learning outcomes.

Mr Speaker, all schools have in place programs and policies to address bullying and harassment and to create positive, supportive learning environments. But it would be foolish to suppose that having policies and programs alone will somehow ensure that all people are respectful towards one another. Rather, school bullying management practices provide clear support and guidance for students, staff and parents, focusing on early intervention and on developing a culture of respect where harassment in any form is not tolerated.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .