Bullying, School Liability and the Relationship with Student Wellbeing and Learning

Bullying is no longer confined to the school premises before the final bell of the day rings. Since the internet is everywhere, we have entered a new frontier where bullying has the potential to happen anywhere at any time in the form of cyberbullying. A new report released by the Federal Government in November 2018 has found that bullying severely affects the learning and wellbeing of students, particularly young students in primary school.

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Violence, Workplace Bullying and Stress – All in a Day’s Work for a Teacher

Every school should be a safe place but not just for students. In recent months, there have been incidents of violence against teachers, workplace bullying in the staffroom and teachers worked to the point of stress, exhaustion and severe illness. All these incidents are health and safety risks for staff and should be appropriately balanced on a daily basis by schools with their duty of care to their students.

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Canteens and Tuck Shops – Promoting Healthy Food in Australian Schools

Schools around Australia have an important role as a source of information surrounding student’s health according to the World Health Organisation Framework for Action for health-promoting schools. There have recently been calls in the media to improve the quality of canteen or tuck shop food and new initiatives to reduce waste and eat more fresh food. A health-promoting school is one that constantly strengthens its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working, and it seems Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are definitely on board with this practice in their initiatives for healthy food in their schools.

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Religious Freedom and Inclusion: Challenges for Schools

On 19 November 2018, the Federal Senate Inquiry into “Legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff” had its first public hearing. Throughout the submissions, frequent reference was made to the Federal Religious Freedoms Review, whose report, despite being given to the Prime Minister on 18 May 2018, has not yet been publicly released. Non-government schools established for religious purposes are in the crosshairs of both reviews and their policies on enrolment, recruitment and pastoral care have come under close scrutiny as a result.

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Sexting as a Social Norm: How Schools Can Address the Legal and Social Risks for Students

At a recent NSW Anti-Bullying Conference, Canadian Researcher and Psychology Professor, Wendy Craig, told attendees that “teenagers now see sexting as a social norm and its dangers need to be addressed directly in classrooms as part of the sex education curriculum.” However, schools also need to navigate the legal risks of child pornography laws when addressing the topic of sexting.

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Cyber Attacks in Schools Surge as OAIC Releases Third Quarter Notifiable Data Breach Report

Recent international media reports have highlighted a significant increase in cyber attacks against schools, with six schools in New Zealand having their websites targeted in the first week of the term. However, this does not seem to be isolated to overseas incidents, with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) releasing their Third Quarter Notifiable Data Breach Report (OAIC Report) showing an increase in data breaches with 57 per cent attributed to malicious or criminal attacks, similar to the ones described in New Zealand.

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The Australian Student Wellbeing Framework: Safe, Supported, Included and Connected

On 19 October 2018, the Federal Minister for Education launched the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework (Wellbeing Framework). Following extensive consultation and review in 2017, the Wellbeing Framework focuses on contemporary issues facing Australian school communities and identifies ways to support schools to build learning environments where students feel safe, supported, included and connected. The Wellbeing Framework is also committed to improving educational outcomes for all Australian students and recognises that children do better when respectful relationships are developed and maintained between home and school.

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National Apology to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Made by Federal Government

On 22 October 2018, the Prime Minister apologised on behalf of the Federal Government to all survivors of child sexual abuse. The Federal Government and each state and territory have all accepted, or accepted in principle, the vast majority of the recommendations suggested by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission). The National Apology recognised that, after the investigations of the Royal Commission, not only particular institutions, but society as a whole, failed children and that everyone, including schools, needs to do better to protect the children under their care.

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