Introducing Friendly Schools

An evidence-based whole-school approach to social and emotional wellbeing
and bullying prevention.

What is Friendly Schools?

A Student Wellbeing Initiative

Friendly Schools helps build critical social and emotional skills, create positive, safe and supportive learning environments, and significantly reduce bullying in both primary and secondary schools.

With over 20 years of extensive research in Australian schools, Friendly Schools is recognised nationally and internationally as one of the most comprehensive and thoroughly tested approaches to enhance student wellbeing.

This is not a ‘one size fits all program’.

Schools use high quality evidence-based research and interactive tools to examine their own existing contexts, policies, and practices to identify their unique strengths and areas for improvement. Friendly Schools then helps schools to address gaps using its extensively tested strategies and resources that build on existing strengths to make a real difference to students’ social and emotional wellbeing.


Friendly Schools was created to help schools to:



Develop positive behaviours & healthy relationships

Enable student
voice and
peer support

Build social & emotional learning skills

Support online
safety and cyber leadership

Create a safe supportive school climate

Prevent and manage bullying & cyberbullying

Partner with
families for student wellbeing

Why choose Friendly Schools?


Friendly Schools has received the highest possible rating for both evidence and implementation on the Be You Programs Directory. Friendly Schools is one of only a few programs to achieve this rating from a list of over 60 programs. The Be You Programs Directory is a searchable database designed to help educators find the best evidence-based mental health and wellbeing program/s to implement in their school or other learning community.

Based on proven research

Friendly Schools is based on more research than any other school-based wellbeing initiative in Australia.

The Friendly Schools research team led by Professor Donna Cross (pictured) has conducted 23 high quality school and community-based studies with over 40,000 Australian children and adolescents, their families and school staff. This research provides an unparalleled understanding of the factors that promote student social and emotional wellbeing and bullying prevention. 

❝ When Friendly Schools began in 1999, we never imagined that our research would have the impact it has had on school policy and practice and children’s social development not only across Australia, but internationally. ❞


Professor Donna Cross

Friendly Schools Research Lead

Building social and emotional wellbeing

Through its focus on social emotional learning, Friendly Schools provides schools with a unique and effective approach to supporting student social and emotional wellbeing that helps reduce problems with depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress as well as bullying and other socially aggressive behaviours.

Friendly Schools helps to make a difference in children’s lives both now and in the future by developing emotional and social self-efficacy, fostering empathy, enabling help seeking and positive peer action, and promoting moral engagement and social inclusion.

We know that many schools are already engaging in strategies and practices that aim to address social and emotional wellbeing. However, through our research, many schools highlighted a need to review their current practices in order to find what was already working well for them as well as what needed improvement.

Friendly Schools provides tools and resources to guide school coordinating teams through this process of review and reflection. Evidence-based strategies and advice then support the implementation of a sustainable improvement plan to support student wellbeing and a safe and friendly school climate and environment.

Self Management
Manage own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours effectively in different situations.
Social Awareness
Understand the perspectives of, and empathise with others, including those from diverse cultures and contexts.
Relationship Skills
Establish and maintain healthy relationships and effectively interact with diverse groups and individuals.
Decision Making Online
Make constructive and respectful choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across diverse situations.
Self Awareness
Accurately recognise and understand own emotions and thoughts and how they influence behaviour across contexts.

Based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) model, Friendly Schools links directly to the Australian Curriculum Personal and Social Capabilities.

Start Exploring


Learn about the evidence underpinning Friendly Schools as well as our new and going research projects.


Discover our whole-school approach that meets your primary or secondary school’s unique strengths and needs.


Understand how to support your child’s social and emotional wellbeing at home and to support their in school learning as well.