Respect for the (Online) Environment

​At last Friday’s campus assembly, I emphasised to the students our school's core values of ‘respect’ as well as some simple actions (‘one percenters’) that they could take immediately to have a positive impact on our community.

Some of these ‘one percenters’ require a commitment to ‘respect for self’ (such as arriving to class on time), others require ‘respect for others’ (such as the tone of communication with other students and staff), while other actions require ‘respect for the environment’.

Traditionally, Woodleigh has framed this as care of the natural environment, and I did highlight campus litter on Friday as an example of this. More recently, though, we have broadened the ‘environment’ focus to include the ‘online’ environment.

In her article in this edition of the Messenger, our Director of Counselling references the SBS series ‘The Hunting’ to illustrate the impact of online disrespect, particularly online harassment and bullying. It’s an issue that we are not immune from here at Woodleigh and one of the challenges for school leaders today is that we often find ourselves dealing with behaviour that has taken place online, away from school, but inevitably impacts relationships in the classroom.

The school has taken a number of proactive steps over the last few years to support students and families to support online respect. We made changes to our mobile phone policy last year to ban phones in Junior Homestead, a move that has now been replicated by the Victorian Government for all state schools. Over the last few years we have also run a Parent Education Series with a heavy focus on online behaviour, with speakers such as Melinda Tankard Reist, Deanne Carson, Steven Dupon and Susan McLean providing expert guidance. The school is currently reviewing the Homestead and Wellbeing programs to further strengthen the guidance to students while parents will soon have access to the ‘Family Zone’ resource to help support cybersafety – keep an eye out for information sessions on this.

Image: Susan McLean – Cyber Safety Solutions


Parents seeking further support on how they can help their child have a safe and healthy online experience may also be interested in the resources developed by the Australian Government’s eSafety Commissioner. There will be further support for families through the Parent Education Series on campus.

David Burton
Head of Senior Campus