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FAQ

Western Australia

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Hi, my name’s Chelsea. I’m 13 years old and I live in Western Australia. I’ve been bullied at school for about 8 years now and the kids at school tell me I’m stupid and retarded. I feel alone and no one will help me, not even the teachers at school.
 

Answer: We’re really sorry to hear that you’re being bullied, Chelsea, and we’re glad you contacted us. You are not alone. We think it would be useful for you to talk to a counsellor about what's going on. We can give you some contact details for counselling services that can help.

You have a right to feel safe and to be safe, both at home and at school. Your parents (or carers) and your teachers have a responsibility to help you and to make sure you are not at risk of harm.

If you haven’t already done so, we encourage you to talk to a trusted adult like your parents or a school counsellor about the bullying and your brother's behaviour.

What can you do?


  • Talk to your school with the help of your parents or a trusted adult


All schools have a duty to keep their students safe, and public schools in WA are required to have a strategy to prevent and manage bullying. This will be part of your school’s behaviour management plan. It is important to talk to your teachers and let them know what's going on.

You mentioned that your school will not help you. If your teachers, school counsellor and principal are not taking your situation seriously, you could ask your parents or another trusted adult to talk to the school on your behalf.

They can remind the school of its responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect you from bullying. They can find more information about the school's responsibilities here: http://det.wa.edu.au/policies/detcms/policy-planning-and-accountability/policies-framework/policies/behaviour-management-in-schools.en?bbp.s=9&bbp.e=select&bbp.v=0&bbp.i=d0.a.1.2.1.8.1&bbp.8.policyID=13876179&g11n.enc=UTF-8&bbp.9.pane=3

  • Make a complaint to the Department of Education


If this does not resolve the problem, we recommend that you and a support person contact the regional office of the Department of Education (you can get their details from the school).

If the regional office isn't able to help, you can make a formal complaint about the bullying and the school's failure to take it seriously. The complaint should include as much detail as possible about the specific incidents of bullying, the school's response, and any discussions with the school and the regional office.

You can submit the complaint to the regional office that you have been dealing with, or to the Director General of the Department of Education at:

Director General
Department of Education
151 Royal Street
EAST PERTH WA 6004

Most complaints have to be made within a year. You and your support person can find more information about complaints on the Department of Education's website:

  • Talking with my School:

http://det.wa.edu.au/policies/detcms/policy-planning-and-accountability/policies-framework/guidelines/talking-to-your-school.en?oid=com.arsdigita.cms.contenttypes.guideline-id-13321070

and

  • Disputes and Complaints Policy:

http://det.wa.edu.au/policies/detcms/policy-planning-and-accountability/policies-framework/policies/disputes-and-complaints.en?bbp.s=9&bbp.e=select&bbp.v=3&bbp.i=d0.m.1&bbp.8.policyID=11565114&g11n.enc=UTF-8&bbp.9.pane=0  


**If you are ever in feel like you are in serious danger, call the police on 000. **

Page last updated 17 July 2015.

Question:

Hi, I’m Tom, I’m 17 years old and I live in WA. Sylvia, a girl from school, has been spreading rumours about me and when I send her a message from our school portal asking her to stop, she got me banned from the website! I didn’t even get a chance to respond! What can I do about this?





Answer: Hi, Tom, thanks for writing to us. All students have a right to be treated fairly - this includes a right to be told if you are accused of something and to give your side of the story before the school makes a decision to discipline you. In addition to this general right, public schools in WA have some specific policies on bullying. We say more about these policies below. It's a good idea to talk to your parents about this and meet with the teacher who made the decision, or your principal.

Procedural Fairness
All students have a right to 'procedural fairness' when schools make decisions that affect them - for example, the decision to deny you access to the school portal. This includes the right to:

  •  be told if you are accused of something,
  •  give your side of the story,
  •  receive a fair and quick decision from an unbiased decision-maker (someone with an open mind), and
  •  be told the reasons for the decision.


For more information about procedural fairness in public schools, you can have a look at the Department of Education's guidelines:
http://det.wa.edu.au/policies/detcms/policy-planning-and-accountability/policies-framework/definitions/procedural-fairness-2.en?oid=com.arsdigita.cms.contenttypes.GlossaryItem-id-10118506

While private schools don't strictly have to follow these particular guidelines about procedural fairness, they usually have rules which say they have to follow a certain process to make sure students are treated fairly. These rules might be found in your school's enrollment agreement or at the school office.

If you believe your school has breached your right to procedural fairness by banning you from the school website without talking to you or asking for your side of the story, we recommend that you ask to talk to your principal about the situation. We say more about this below.

Bullying

We don’t know what kind of things Sylvia has been saying about you or how she has been spreading these rumours. But spreading rumours can be a form of bullying and you don’t have to deal with hurt feelings or embarrassment on your own.

Bullying is behaviour that:

  •  is meant to be hurtful;
  •  targets a certain person or group of people;
  •  happens more than once;
  •  embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied.


All schools in WA must have an anti-bullying plan to deal with bullying and cyber bullying. You can ask your school for a copy of their anti-bullying plan. Students who bully other students can be disciplined, and in some serious cases, even suspended or excluded.

If Sylvia or anyone else is spreading rumours about you online, it's a good idea to keep copies of any hurtful comments as evidence. You can also talk to your parents or another trusted adult, such as a school counsellor or the principal, about what's going on.

Keep in mind that it's usually best not to respond directly to cyber bullying because anything you say online in anger or frustration can also be used as evidence against you.

What can you do

  •  Meet with the principal

We recommend setting up a meeting with the school principal to discuss what happened with the school portal and your right to be treated fairly. You can bring a copy of this email and the policies linked above if you want. If you don't feel comfortable going alone, you can go with your parents.

At the meeting, you could explain that you were only sending a message because you were trying to stop Sylvia from spreading rumours about you (if you have copies of any hurtful messages, it might be helpful to bring these with you).

  •   Make a complaint to the Department of Education

If you go to a public school and you aren't happy with the way the principal responds at the meeting, you can make a complaint to the Regional or Local Education Office of the Department of Education. We aren't sure which region your school is in, but you can ask your school for the contact details of your local office. You can also find a list of regional offices here: http://www.det.wa.edu.au/schoolsonline/district.do

If this is not successful, you can also make a complaint to the Central Department of Education by sending a letter explaining the situation to:

Director General
Department of Education
151 Royal Street
EAST PERTH WA 6004

Keep in mind that a complaint normally has to be made within a year.

This page was last updated 18 July 2015.



 

   
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