Parish secondary schools tackling cyberbullying, online safety head-on | photos

St Agnes Parish secondary schools hosted their first dedicated digital well-being week, Cyberwell 17, to address cyber-bullying and online safety issues faced their students.

The Cyberwell program is for students, parents and teachers of Newman Senior Technical College, MacKillop College and St Joseph’s Regional College and featured seminars to provide skills for making healthy and informed choices on social media.

Executive Officer for Education and Training at the Parish, John McQueen, said the program, made possible by funding from the Lismore Diocese Catholic Schools Office, was an important initiative to combat cyberbullying and to promote respectful, safe behaviour online. 

“Running programs like ‘Cyberwell 17’ is a vital for us as educators to give young people the tools necessary to cope with the increasing pressure of living in a digital world,” Mr McQueen said.

Leader of Learning Technologies at St Joseph’s Regional College and event organiser, Matt Cato, said ‘Cyberwell 17’ brought together cyber safety and social media security experts over a week to share their knowledge and experience with the St Agnes’ secondary schools community. 

“Renowned psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, and social media specialists from ‘Safe on Social’ and ‘Project Rockit’, ran sessions targeted at the needs of different age groups and audiences,” Mr Cato said.

“Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s highest profile child and adolescent psychologists, ran an hour-long ‘Real Wired Child’ seminar attended by over 100 parents and teachers on 16 October at MacKillop College.

He shared latest research on what kids are doing online, how to keep them safe and how to use technology to build student wellbeing.

Matt Cato

“He shared latest research on what kids are doing online, how to keep them safe and how to use technology to build student wellbeing.”

Year 11 students from all three schools attended a seminar at Newman College run by Safe on Social’s Kirra Pendergast, a leading educator on social media security, privacy and media risk management, who has authored 10 ebooks and presented to more than 80,000 students at over 200 schools.” 

“During her sessions, Kirra shared astute advice on reporting cyber-bullying and inappropriate on-line content, recognising social media scams and protecting against identity theft, as well as maintaining privacy online and the legal implications of comments and hashtags on social media,” Mr Cato said.

Meanwhile, Melbourne-based organisation, ‘Project Rockit’, ran relevant and engaging sessions for Year 7 and 8 students at both MacKillop and St Joseph’s Regional Colleges.

“The Project Rockit seminars challenged students to think about the role they play in cyberbullying, how they can be part of the solution not the problem, and ways to stand up against online bullying while still maintaining their reputation with peers,” Mr Cato added.

‘Cyberwell 17’ has given everyone who attended, particularly students, a good grounding in how to stay cyber-safe.