Anti-bullying presenters, Rosie Thomas, left and her sister, Lucy, with year 5 students, Alice Humphries, 10, of Weetangerra and Spencer Burns, 11, of Hawker. Photo: Graham Tidy
As politicians returned to Canberra to bully each other in the last sitting weeks of Parliament, the capital's children were busy getting a head start on how to put an end to the same sort of behaviour.
Melbourne sisters Rosie and Lucy Thomas, who together form Project Rockit, have been brought to Canberra by the Association of Parents and Friends ACT for a week of workshops at seven schools.
The sisters, who have been working with youths for several years, said it was important in today's age of easy access to technology that anti-bullying strategies be taught to children while they are still young.
''As we get older, bullying tends to shift towards more technological platforms. [But] we see bullying, whether it happens online or offline, as a social issue, so what we focus on is gearing secondary-age students up with social strategies for dealing with these issues online, beyond just reporting it,'' Lucy said.
''People are getting online longer. I think as technology becomes more accessible we're finding increasingly younger students have internet access on their mobile or their tablet. Now a lot of schools provide their students with an iPad and that means we have access to lots of platforms that previously young people might not have access to.''
The sisters ran their first session at Radford College Junior School on Monday and will be running sessions with kids from years 4 to 9, as well as their teachers and parents all week.
''It's so important that it is a whole-school approach. Essentially, we all need help,'' Rosie said.
''I think it's important that we're all offering the right advice, that parents are educated. But also, it doesn't have to be as fearful or scary, this world - what we're trying to do is demystify it.''
Year five students Alice Humphries and Spencer Burns said they both learnt to stand up to bullying, and would both use some of the tools they picked up during the session.
''If most people learn about [bullying], then it probably will stop,'' Alice said.
Rosie and Lucy offered three quick tips for parents trying to deal with their children entering the online world:
■ Remember there are two sides to every story, so don't jump to quick judgment.
■ Get a parent or close family role model online, friending their child on social media, and understanding the sites the child visits.
■ Listen to children's fears about talking to parents, and discuss ways to have a more open relationship.