Semaphore buddies Kasey and Lachlan are among a growing number of South Australian youngsters helping to reduce the incidence of bullying in schools.
The year one and year five students from Westport Primary School are part of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s Better Buddies program, an initiative designed to create friendly and caring primary school communities where bullying is reduced.
This year, six schools in the City of Charles Sturt area are implementing the program, thanks to the support of National Australia Bank (NAB).
“We are very proud to support Better Buddies and the thousands of South Australian children who are now learning how to take care of each other at school,” NAB Retail State General Manager SA Gregg Harris said.
“As a father myself, I’m passionate about ensuring children can go to school without the fear of being bullied. Schools should be friendly, caring and welcoming environments. That’s what Better Buddies is all about.
“NAB has partnered with The Alannah and Madeline Foundation for over 10 years to help prevent bullying in schools. During this time, NAB has dedicated more than $4 million to the development of initiatives aimed at creating safe and respectful environments where bullying is reduced.”
Better Buddies is designed to enhance existing buddy programs or introduce a buddy program to primary schools for the first time.
It pairs young and first year primary school students with an older buddy to help them feel safe, valued and connected to their school community.
Once a fortnight, Westport Primary School’s buddy pairs are separated into fourteen groups and take part in different exercises supervised by a teacher including craft, cooking and team building games.
“Better Buddies has really helped us to build stronger relationships across the school community,” said program coordinator and Westport Primary School assistant principal Lisa Craddock.
“This is our eighth year of running the program. “It has helped create camaraderie among students, both in classrooms and in the yard, and provides a sense of belonging to younger students making the transition to full-time schooling.”
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation CEO, Lesley Podesta, said bullying was one of the most common forms of violence in the lives of children.
“Research shows that around one in every four school students has been a victim of bullying,” she said.
“Better Buddies gives students the skills and understanding to engage in positive, respectful and inclusive relationships, so that negative and violent behaviour – such as bullying – can be reduced.”