ADJOURNMENT MATTER — Mr Kennedy to ask the Minister for Education

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for the minister to provide me with an update on the rollout of the government’s mobile phone ban at schools in my electorate of Hawthorn.

Last year I visited Auburn High School with the minister, where funding was announced for the provision of lockers so students could secure their phones during school hours. Auburn High was chosen as they had already successfully implemented the mobile phone ban.

The mobile ban was implemented in term one this year at state primary and secondary schools and will remove a major distraction from classrooms so students can focus more on learning and in break times socialise more with their classmates. The ban will also be critical in helping to tackle the issue of cyberbullying. The Victorian government takes the safe and responsible use of digital technologies, student safety and wellbeing, and the development of social skills and positive behaviour very seriously.

The ban is part of the government’s plan to address mental health and bullying, with $51.2 million invested so every government secondary school campus will have a qualified mental health practitioner within the school, as well as $65.5 million in student health and wellbeing, which includes anti-bullying and positive behaviour support.

The government’s new policy, which it should be noted has been very widely welcomed, acknowledges that technology is increasingly affecting how students learn and communicate. Therefore when a student has been given explicit permission by the classroom teacher to access and use such devices to enhance learning, mobile phones will be permitted for that specific purpose.

Schools will also be required to develop a local students using mobile phones policy, which must include how the policy will be implemented.

The principal will be responsible for deciding the appropriate storage of mobile phones. Examples of secure storage include student lockers that are lockable or a lockable cupboard stored in an administrative office.

The policy will be enforced by schools under their existing student engagement policies; for example, through detention or a loss of school-based privileges where students fail to comply with the local school policy on mobile phones, including if they refuse to hand over their phones to school staff when asked.

I look forward to hearing from the minister.

Answer. 

The Andrews Labor Government takes the issues of the safe and responsible use of digital technologies, student safety and wellbeing, and the development of social skills and positive behaviours in schools very seriously.

The new mobile phone policy means that phones brought to school must be switched off and stored securely during the school day, and was introduced for all students at Victorian state primary and secondary schools from Term 1, 2020.

The policy has been introduced so schools can best provide a safe environment to learn without inappropriate mobile phone use, including cyberbullying, or distractions. The new policy also provides greater opportunities for social interaction and physical activity during recess and lunchtimes.

I am pleased to report that, like Auburn High School and other schools who already had similar local mobile phone policies in place, schools have recognised the benefits of the new policy and are implementing it in their schools. To support this implementation, the Government allocated $12.4 million for schools to provide secure storage for students’ mobile phones, the majority of which has now been disbursed.

The Hon James Merlino MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for Education