Ryan calls for action on bullying

By Benalla Ensign

School students in Benalla and across the Euroa electorate face some of the highest rates of bullying in Victoria, according to a recent report.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan has highlighted the 2018 Attitudes to School report, which was recently released by the Victorian Education Department.

It shows that more than a quarter of year 5 and 6 students in government schools in Benalla and Mitchell and more than 30 per cent of Strathbogie and Benalla government school students in year’s 7 to 9 have been bullied.

Ms Ryan said the figures showed the state government needed to act urgently.

‘‘Rural students are far more likely to experience bullying in school compared with their metropolitan counterparts,” Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Along with the emotional effects, studies have also shown that students targeted by bullying are left behind when it comes to learning outcomes.

‘‘These bullying rates are completely unacceptable.

‘‘Schools have tried to put measures in place to address bullying, but they are being let down by a lack of action from the Andrews Government.

‘‘School principals need more support from the government to help them take action against serial bullies, including expulsion of serial bullies who do not improve their behaviour after repeated warnings and who put the safety and welfare of other students at risk.

‘‘I have also previously called for the implementation of the Alannah & Madeline foundation’s anti-bullying program to be rolled out in all government schools.

‘‘School should be a safe place for all students, regardless of (their) gender, religion, sexuality, race, ethnicity, family circumstances or appearance, but these results show that the government is not delivering on that basic principle.

‘‘Labor has been in government for 16 of the past 20 years and seem to have made no headway in this area, leaving many families distressed.

‘‘Labor’s city-centric premier needs a geography lesson — there are students that live outside the tram tracks, and these students matter.

‘‘Students across the Euroa electorate have a right to go to school and feel safe and our teachers and principals need to know that the government actually backs their efforts.’’