Page 1382 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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into Hansard a letter I received in my office a couple of weeks ago about one of our excellent public schools, Evatt primary school. I have sought permission from the author to read it in, although I am omitting the names for the sake of privacy. The letter says:

Dear Ms Gallagher,

I’m writing to you as a grandparent. My grandchildren attend Evatt Primary School. The younger of the two … was subjected to bullying late last year. He did not want this reported to the school and in fact my daughter found it difficult to go against his wishes. When his mother asked him how he felt when they teased him, he said he was used to it—it didn’t matter. She did however speak to the Deputy Principal … She gave my daughter a very sympathetic ear and spoke to [our child] and asked him to make sure that he reported any incidents to her in the future. It was some time later that his sister … noticed the same boys bullying [our child] and she went herself to [the deputy principal]. The boys would not allow him to play and were teasing and ganging up on him, pulling his shirt etc. He is a gentle child who would prefer to walk away and the bullies knew this. [The deputy] counselled the boys as well as speaking to [our child]. [The deputy] spoke to his teacher who was most surprised, as she saw [our child] as a popular member of the class. It was not until going into the playground that the bullying became obvious. She followed the incident through with [our child] and made sure that all was well. This type of bullying is not tolerated at Evatt. [The deputy] sees it as a personal challenge and is determined to nip any such behaviour in the bud.

I want to say that I believe the school dealt with this incident in a most professional, positive and satisfactory way. [Our child] was in tears on the first day of school this year however after roll call [our child’s] tears turned to smiles. [Our child] has been separated from these boys in class this year and his self-esteem has grown beyond our expectations. The bullies have been disempowered because they have been separated and a level playing field has been created. [Our child] is achieving more in class as he doesn’t feel threatened and is more willing to participate in class discussion. His mother has maintained a good relationship with the children, a most important part of parenting, and she has happy children.

All too often schools are condemned but I would like to say thank you to the school for what they have done for [our children]. Evatt is a very caring school and I hope you will give them some recognition for a job well done. The children at Evatt are also educationally challenged and health and fitness is fostered as well. How lucky are we to have such a wonderful public school for our children to attend. Surely encouragement from you will help give them the strength to continue the good work.

Thank you for reading this.

I would like to congratulate Evatt school for such a letter. I think it does put a positive slant on bullying and shows how our schools are dealing with these issues day by day. I would like to put on the record formally that Evatt school is doing a fantastic job in supporting all its students.

Seniors Week

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.01): On Sunday last, representing Senator Humphries, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the ecumenical church service in the Reid Uniting Church in celebration of and reflection on Seniors Week 2005 in the ACT.

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