Comparing Western Australia and South Australia public high school’s cyberbullying policies – is there a need for a legislative change
Date of Award
Master of Laws (Research)
School of Business and Law
The internet provides some of the most effective means of communication. Cyberbullying occurs when the internet is used to bully another person. Along with the positive aspects of the internet, cyberbullying is certainly one of the most negative aspects, especially with regard to school students. Victims of cyberbullying may be able to obtain legal sanctions, however, this usually occurs after the harm is done. In Australia, some states such as South Australia have recognised the need for preventive strategies by requiring schools to have an anti-bullying plan in place. Other countries, like Ontario, Canada have implemented similar preventative strategies in their legislation.
One way to reduce cyberbullying in schools is to create an anti-bullying culture within the school. The implementation of a cyberbullying policy that promotes a positive school culture, prevention and intervention strategies, support systems, clear definitions and reporting procedures, aid in creating this culture. An effective school cyberbullying policy will aid in the promotion of an anti-bullying school culture and thus lead to a reduction in bullying and cyberbullying behaviours.
This thesis argues that Western Australia should follow South Australia and Ontario in implementing legislation to require high schools to have a cyberbullying policy. This argument will be tested by answering two research questions: First, whether the cyberbullying policy is more prevalent, robust and openly displayed in South Australian public high schools compared with Western Australian public high schools; and second, what lessons can be drawn from legislation pertaining to cyberbullying in schools in Ontario and South Australia.
The research finding suggests that Western Australian public high schools do not have and do not openly promote policies pertaining to cyberbullying, whereas South Australian public high schools do. The research found that 88% of South Australian public high schools openly display their bullying policy, in comparison to only 51% of Western Australian public high schools. South Australia also has a state-wide bullying prevention program and legislation regarding the implementation of policies regarding bullying and harassment in schools. Legislation from Ontario provides a different perspective regarding the implementation of bullying and cyberbullying policies in schools. Ontario’s Education Act is more extensive than the legislation in South Australia with regards to cyberbullying in schools, as it includes definitions of bullying and cyberbullying, the rights and responsibilities of teachers, principals, and the school board to prevent and address bullying in schools, as well as encouraging a positive and inclusive school experience, and promoting strong and respectful relationships within the school and the community. Given that the existence of a cyberbullying policy in high school is an important tool in preventing and dealing efficiently with cyberbullying, these findings support the thesis argument that there is a need for similar legislation like the Education Act in Ontario, to be implemented in Western Australia.
Tay, V. (2023). Comparing Western Australia and South Australia public high school’s cyberbullying policies – is there a need for a legislative change. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2647