Posted on 14. Sep, 2010 in News

The Victorian Government has joined forces with The Alannah and Madeline Foundation to help protect school students against cyberbullying with a new initiative called eSmart.

Premier John Brumby and Education Minister Bronwyn Pike today visited Fitzroy High School to speak with students that participated in a recent trial of the initiative and announced $10.6 million for the program to be rolled out in every Victorian school.

Mr Brumby said the innovative initiative would acknowledge schools that demonstrated smart, safe and responsible use of online technology with an eSmart sign to be displayed at the school’s front-gate.

“The safety of Victorian students is paramount and that’s why we’re investing in programs that ensure our students are smart, safe and responsible when using the internet and other technology,” Mr Brumby said.

“For many years, bullying has been associated with the playground – now it has extended to some online communities popular among school students.

“Our investment in eSmart will educate students about the dangers of cyberbullying and other cyber-risks and provide professional development for teachers on how to deal with it.”

The eSmart initiative will provide a $2,000 grant for all Victorian Government schools and 300 needy non-Government schools to implement the program and train staff in dealing with cyberbullying.

The initiative will also provide:

  • A four-person student action team at every Government school to promote cybersafety and work to bridge the gap between parents and students;
  • Training for a school staff member to become a certified eSmart coordinator at every Government school;
  • eSmart progress certificates for schools that are working towards full eSmart status; and,
  • An eSmart sign to be displayed at the front-gate of schools that have achieved eSmart milestones set by the Government in partnership with The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.


Ms Pike said cyberbullying was a serious issue that had the potential to impact on thousands of students participating in online activities.

“eSmart will help tackle cyberbullying that can occur on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and through text messages,” Ms Pike said.

“The program will ensure cybersafety is a normal part of a young person’s life by equipping them to use technology in ways that protect them from the risks.”

Minister for the Respect Agenda Justin Madden said tackling disrespectful behaviours such as cyberbullying was a key focus of the Respect Agenda.

“We need to work in partnership with will parents, schools, organisations and communities to build respect across every section of our community,” Mr Madden said.

“Through the conversations I have had with young people on the issue of cyber-safety, the majority of people behave well online.

“But there are some who use the anonymity of cyberspace to behave in a way they would never behave to someone standing in front of them.

“We need to give young people, parents and teachers the skills to recognise and deal with this very real issue of the 21st century and I’m pleased to see programs like eSmart rising to that challenge.” 

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Judith Slocombe said schools would need to apply for eSmart status every three years to ensure they remained up-to-date with emerging technology and are promoting a positive school culture.

“Technology is an exciting part of our children’s lives. We want them to embrace all the benefits it brings while at the same time we want them to be safe and to use technology responsibly. eSmart schools will equip our young people for a future where technology will be an increasingly important part of their world. ” Dr Slocombe said.

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