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Vaping In Schools Across Australia – Different Management Strategies

Vaping In Schools Across Australia – Different Management Strategies

Dear SMC Community,

Vaping has become the ‘new smoking’ for a range of children across Australia with many of the current manufacturers being smoking companies. This activity does not discriminate across gender or age, with countless young people being tempted to explore the trend. We know that for some young people, this can be addictive, and the substances contained in the vapes can be dangerous and unpredictable. As a College, we deem this not only illegal but also unsafe and high-risk to our students, community and College brand.

In recent months, many reports, research and programs have been written about the dangers of Vaping. Schools are a micro-community of the real world. As a Catholic school in the Lasallian tradition, we continue to see what other schools are doing in this space and the cutting educational and pastoral programs we can provide to support our students. For students in Years 7-9, we continue to work with Life Education, and for students in Years 10-12, we work closely with Paul Dillon and DARTA to provide the very best information about being safe. Some schools have taken drastic measures to lock bathrooms during lesson times. Students at these schools must obtain a key or swipe card to access the area. We have not put this in place at SMC, but we do ask that all students only go to the bathroom by themselves during class or break times. There is no need to go to the bathroom in groups or pairs; if we do see this, we can only assume they are using their mobile phones or Vaping. A key reason we do not want more than ONE student attending the toilet space at a time is to eliminate the temptation of peer pressure. The College would like all of our students to make good choices.

St Michael’s is investigating and looking at installing Vape Detectors, which can create a safer community by alerting a Leadership team member if any Vaping is detected in a particular space. We are working towards installing floor-to-ceiling toilets across the campus for student safety and privacy. As a College, we are also investigating if the current student ID cards could be used as swipe cards to use bathroom facilities.

We continue to monitor, engage and work in partnership with health authorities and educational providers to deter young people from Vaping. We want our students to flourish and realise their potential in making informed decisions that minimise the harm that Vaping can cause. The information provided advises that Vapes are not in any way safer than cigarettes and can often be much more dangerous to an individual’s health.

Moving forward, we will continue to engage with Life Education and Paul Dillon (DARTA). The College will also support staff, parents and caregivers around this current trend, the current forms of vaping, and the paraphernalia that continue to evolve. We will look to run further parent and caregiver sessions as we move forward and continue to learn more about this dangerous and unsafe practice.

I wish to remind all parents and caregivers that we have counselling services available for all SMC students and can also provide contact details for external providers that support individuals on addiction or Vaping activities.

In closing, I would like to remind families that following the St Michael’s College policies and procedures form part of every student’s enrolment. Students caught with Vaping products, Vaping on school grounds or even selling such items will be managed by a member of the Leadership team. This may result in difficult conversations around suspensions and expulsion from the community for the more serious matters.

Mr Matthew Williams, Deputy Principal Pastoral