Interrelate's anti-bullying program debuts in Central West

STARTS HERE: Clergate Public's Cameron Hawkins, teacher James MacDonald, Summer Gillespie, Interrelate's Janet Nolan and Lachlan Coleman. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1130jkbully1

STARTS HERE: Clergate Public's Cameron Hawkins, teacher James MacDonald, Summer Gillespie, Interrelate's Janet Nolan and Lachlan Coleman. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1130jkbully1

In a first for primary school students in the Central West, Interrelate has delivered its bullying awareness program to Clergate Public School.

“Our bullying awareness program has been running since the 1990s,” senior educator Janet Nolan said.

Aside from showing students how they can cope with bullies, report their behaviour, or change it, Ms Nolan said the program was about encouraging action from an entire class.

In a class of 30 with a bully, it’s a tricky job if one student stands up, but if everyone works together, it’s much better. - Interrelate's Janet Nolan

“Our main focus is on the rest of the students. In a class of 30 with a bully, it’s a tricky job if one student stands up, but if everyone works together, it’s much better,” Ms Nolan said.

“Often the people who bully haven’t seen healthy relationships, so the entire class demonstrating a healthy relationship is a really lovely example.

“When we’re talking about being bullied, it’s not retaliating and ignoring it with support from their classmates, they feel it is easier to do that.”

Ms Nolan said the program’s goal was to create a culture of respect. “Students in year 5 or 6 can help forge healthy relationships as the ‘big kids’ but also take that to high school later,” she said.

“It’s supporting your classmates and letting them know bullying isn’t tolerated. Bullying is an attention seeking behaviour, if they’re not getting the attention, it makes bullying less attractive.”

Interrelate’s bullying awareness program is set to run again the in the Central West during the first term of 2017.

“Interrelate has a whole range of different programs which focus on building health relationships and how to maintain them,” Ms Nolan said.

“With bullying, it’s the relationships in the classroom which are not healthy, it’s not a healthy environment in the classroom, it can affect the class or even school.”

For Clergate Public School principal Natalie Philpott said anti-bullying efforts were embedded in the school and the Interrelate program was the perfect link.

“The children really enjoyed the discussions, and they knew quite a lot about bullying,” Mrs Philpott said.

“We do a lot of work with anti-bullying, together with our values program, it links in nicely. It maintains that awareness throughout the year and highlights that we’re on the right track.”

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