STAWELL schools, police, health professionals and community organisations have banded together for a ground-breaking campaign to combat cyber bullying.
Central Grampians Local Learning Employment Network chief executive James Skene said the Stawell campaign had been hailed the first of its kind by anti-bullying experts.
“I didn’t realise this until I was talking to eSmart, but apparently this is the first time a community has come together in this way to tackle cyber bullying,” he said.
eSmart, an initiative of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, aims to improve cyber safety and deal with cyber bullying.
Representatives from eSmart, Project Rockit and Stawell police addressed about 70 people in the Stawell Secondary College Hall on Wednesday night.
Mr Skene said the presenters were well received.
“The presentations were both entertaining and informative,” he said.
“The girls from Project Rockit have worked with schools before and have a unique way of addressing the issue.
“The police went through the do’s and don’ts, such as letting people know what they can be charged for, and the people from eSmart outlined the program they run in schools.”
Mr Skene said all Stawell and district schools were involved in the initiative, which was driven by the Stawell Community Action Network.
“The network involves schools, community organisations and businesses,” he said.
“The problem of cyber bullying was raised by the schools some time ago and taken up by the network.”
Mr Skene was pleased to see months of work come to fruition on Wednesday night.
“We have had great feedback about the forum,” he said.
“It’s not about telling people they can’t use social media such as Facebook, it’s about providing them with information to use it safely.”
Mr Skene said the forum had three objectives: to provide information about cyber bullying, to start a conversation about cyber safety with the community, and to gather information for the future.
“We are still looking at where to go next,” he said.
“We might look at putting out information sheets or we might host another forum.
“The one thing we are sure of is that cyber bullying is a big issue that needs to be addressed and needs to be talked about a lot more.”
Mr Skene thanked everyone for their involvement in the forum.