Interview: Channel 7 Sydney, Sunrise
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
ISSUES: National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence
MELISSA DOYLE: Now, what is the government doing? Is it enough? Well, joining us is Education Minister Peter Garrett and Sunrise parenting expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. Thank you both very much.
Peter Garrett, today, National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, you've got this new website being released and the new app, so obviously this is certainly a big step in the right direction.
PETER GARRETT: Yeah look, I think so. As we know bullying's a big problem, and particularly with cyber-bullying, it's an issue which is harder to control.
We've got a National Safe Schools Framework in place. Schools have got to provide a safe and supportive environment for their kids. Plus we've got the Bullying. No Way! website, refreshed today, and now a phone app as well, Take a Stand Together.
I'm really confident that we've got the advice and the guidelines and the policies in place but what we now need is to make sure that every school, every parent and every kid are aware of them and that the schools have really got the policies being put into action.
DAVID KOCH: OK, so is it - is this the end of it or just the start of more resources going into this area? Are you surprised how insidious it's become in schools and amongst our young Australians?
PETER GARRETT: Mate, I think that the fact that people can do it online now is a really big challenge for us. Mind you, we have put about $125 million into the cyber safety area, so kids can go on and get access to the cyber safety button online, and you can get that information through the Bullying. No Way! website.
And there's a lot of thinking being given to the sort of safety that we need to provide for kids. So I think that there's quite a lot of resources and good policies in place now.
But for me, the key is, are we going to take it seriously as a country? Are parents and school teachers going to take it seriously? Because we know the impact it could have on our kids.
MELISSA DOYLE: Yeah Michael, we've talked about this with you a lot over the years. We had a major campaign, a big petition as you know, back in 2009. Do you think this is going to help; this website and the new iPhone app?
MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: Well, absolutely it will. I actually made a recommendation for an app to the Queensland Minister of Education late last year, so I'm delighted that this has come up and I discussed this with the Minister earlier in - late last year.
I think we have to be really clear that a lot of the kids now are on social networking, they're using telephones. This is exactly what we need to do and it brings us in line with the absolute latest research from around the world.
DAVID KOCH: OK. So it now brings us up to speed. What else do you think we can evolve into doing into the future? Is this the end of it or can we add other things?
MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: No, I think we need some community service announcements that target bystanders. Eighty-seven per cent of these incidents have bystanders. At the moment they're doing nothing. So I'd love to see some CSAs on that.
I'd love to see the states that aren't eSmart schools become eSmart schools. At the moment that's only Queensland and Victoria. And I'd love to see the minister create almost like a series of bullying tsars across Australia to give this issue the profile that it really needs.
PETER GARRETT: Well Michael, I'm always listening to your advice and I've taken some of it already. But look, I'll really give some serious thought to that.
When I go to the Ministerial Council guys, where we sit around with the education ministers later this year, I'm going to say to them this is a national issue. We believe we've got the framework in place, we've got the information that the experts like Michael are giving us, but are you in your government school systems seeing schools take action?
Now I think there are some schools that are doing it and some states as well. Victoria, Queensland well on the way. The other states need to lift their game. And I'll give some thought...
DAVID KOCH: Wow.
PETER GARRETT: ...yeah, and I'll give some thought to bullying tsars. There are people on the website, people like Nick Earls the author and others, who've experienced bullying when they were young and they're putting their sort of stories up online for kids to read and identify with.
One other thing I'd say is this: we need to make sure that as a culture and as Australians we don’t reckon bullying is something that's acceptable. And that's a message that needs to happen around the kitchen table. You guys have done a great job in promoting it. But it's something we really need to take to heart. And I think if we do that we've actually got a lot of the resources in place to pick up on those actions.
MELISSA DOYLE: Joe Hockey earlier said lead by example, we've all got to be nice to each other, from Parliament right down, which was a really, really good point. So thank you so much, Peter, for your time.