Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written to school principals across the country calling for an end to bullying, as the country debates a toxic culture of hazing at elite university colleges.
“We believe all students have the right to be safe at school,” Turnbull wrote in a letter along with Education Minister Simon Birmingham, reportedly distributed to every school principal in Australia, as quoted by ABC News.
“Bullying and violence has no place in Australia,” they said, stating that bullying at school or online was unacceptable.
The letter was sent ahead of National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, to be held on Friday 16 March.
A recent 200-page report documented a culture of misogynistic and potentially dangerous hazing rituals at the University of Sydney’s elite colleges.
“The message has to be very, very clear that zero tolerance will be applied in terms of instances of assault on campuses,” Senator Birmingham said in an interview. “Universities will help students go to the police or help students take action to make sure that this culture is changed.”
Activists are calling to criminalise hazing rituals. “Assault is assault … we have laws in place and we ought to make sure that people aren’t just threatened or fined or sanctioned in a polite way for instances of assault,” added Birmingham.