The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association has not been included on the Premier’s cyber-bullying taskforce, a decision that has been described as short-sighted and making no sense.
State president, Kim Hughes, expressed her disappointment last week following the announcement of the taskforce team.
“Considering the taskforce came about largely as the result of the tragic events surrounding a geographically isolated boarding school student, and we are the group that advocates best for these students and have an in-depth knowledge of the topic, we should be at the table,” she said.
She was supported by opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, who said it made no sense for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to exclude ICPA.
“I know from experience that boarding school kids can be especially vulnerable to bullying.
“They are living in close quarters, away from home and without the parental support city families take for granted.
“I’m disappointed that the recent tragic loss of Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett hasn’t underlined for the Premier the unique challenges facing isolated parents and their children.”
A spokeswoman for the Premier said they understood how passionate people were about such an important issue.
She said the taskforce had “regional representation”, via the P&Cs Queensland and Queensland Catholic Education Commission members, as well as from the principal of Tagai State College on Thursday Island.
This was described as a good cross-section of people.
“There will be extensive opportunities for organisations and individuals to be involved,” the spokeswoman said in a prepared statement. “There will be roundtables and stakeholder consultations held, some in regional areas, to allow representatives from remote and regional Queensland to express their views and to provide input and their perspectives.”
Ms Hughes said this was very short-sighted.
“We represent the views of all rural and remote students, not sectors,” she said.
“Rural and remote students, particularly those in boarding, need representation by people who are actually living it, because they are very vulnerable.
“ICPA can give valuable insight into what they are living every day.”
Due to geographic isolation, many of the students ICPA represents are forced to live away from home from the ages of 11 or 12.
Ms Hughes said homesickness, lack of social exposure, and their young age, as well as not having parents on hand, made them very vulnerable to bullying.
“We advocate for these students and have an in-depth knowledge of their needs,” she said. “We hope the government reconsiders its position.”
She had sought the support of rural MPs to push for ICPA’s inclusion.