From the President: Government adopts cyberbullying recommendations
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 8, 2 November 2018, page no. 7
A $3.5 million investment will kick-start the Queensland Government’s commitment to tackling cyberbullying through the framework recommended by the Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce.
An emotional launch event saw prominent Queenslanders, politicians and taskforce members gather in Brisbane to hear the Premier, Anastacia Palaszczuk, hand down her government’s response. All 29 report recommendations have been accepted. A full copy of the taskforce report and the Queensland Government’s response can be accessed at www.premiers.qld.gov.au/publications/categories/reports/cyberbullying-gov-response.aspx
The $3.5 million commitment includes:
- $2 million over two years to develop and roll out awareness and education campaigns to assist the community, parents and carers and young people to understand what cyberbullying is, the harm it can cause and how we need to address it
- $1 million for schools, including $450,000 in funding to the Dolly’s Dream Foundation, in partnership with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, to implement the eSmart Schools Program in Queensland schools. Dolly’s Dream Foundation will match this funding with a further $300,000
- $500,000 to provide grants to young people and to youth and community organisations that want to undertake their own initiatives to address cyberbullying.
The taskforce concluded that the best way to tackle cyberbullying of children and young people is through a public health approach. Bullying behaviour in all its forms is a form of violence and a contributor to mental health issues. As a pervasive and malicious form of bullying behaviour, cyberbullying can only be addressed through a whole of community response that builds positive human relationships. It needs everyone to be a little bit kinder and more respectful.
Parents must lead this work. They need to be provided with the information and tools to address the concerns of their young ones, but they are best placed to act to protect and nurture. Community groups and prominent individuals must also display behaviour that provides the appropriate role model.
Social media companies, as the providers of the channels through which cyberbullying is conducted, must take more responsibility for protecting users, especially young people, and will be urged to make financial contributions to awareness campaigns and required to adopt more protective default settings on the platforms and devices used to access them.
Finally, schools will continue to play a vital role in addressing cyberbullying and bullying behaviour generally. The Queensland Government will provide greater clarity to schools on the scope of responsibility for addressing bullying, a crucial need in light of the fact that many incidents occur outside of school hours and in the young person’s home or non-school community.
The information and tools developed to support parents and carers, community members, teachers, principals and young people, will privilege the voices of young people. They will be developed with and by the young people who will use them, rather than being imposed on them by well-meaning elders.
Much work remains to be done and further articles detailing the key emphases of the report will be published over time.
Our concerted efforts can reduce the scourge of bullying and better support those who are its victims. We will do all we can to promote and sustain these initiatives.