In Parliament

Adjournment - Bullying


Thursday, 2 May 2019.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (17:32):

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for the minister to update me on what policies and programs the government has in place to assist with the complex issue of ameliorating the bullying of young people. One of the frightening things about bullying is that because of social media children can now be cyberbullied at home. The only way for our children to be shielded is for us to accept that locking our front doors will not lock out a bully. We also need to encourage children to understand that they have a right to personal space. Moreover, an added challenge is encouraging a bullied young person to let someone know.

A recent study conducted by Yourtown revealed that only 40 per cent of cyberbullied young people had disclosed their experiences to a parent or carer. Studies have also shown that one in four Australian students are bullied, one in five are cyber bullied and children who are physically bullied are six to nine months behind their non-victimised peers academically.

I recently met with Monique Mastrobattista. Monique was bullied to breaking point after bruising her face falling down stairs at school. Rather than giving up Monique wrote a book to help other young people. The book is called My Discreet Bully. Monique visited this Parliament—in fact she stood right there—and told me her message: get kind. Monique’s positive message affirmed my view that parents and carers have primary responsibility for building self-esteem and encouraging positive thinking amongst our young children.

Chelsea Blake Aylward from my community is helping to do exactly that. She has created beautifully illustrated ‘I am me’ positive affirmation cards that encourage positive thoughts. The cards are based on dealing with bullying and improving self-esteem and body confidence. I often spend time reading the cards with my own daughters, and I have chosen to provide sets of the cards to all of the primary schools in my community.

Many of the schools in my community are taking a leadership role in this space. For example, Gardenvale Primary School has developed a school mascot called HERRRBY, based on the values of honesty, empathy, respect, resilience, responsibility and being yourself. Though just a mascot, HERRRBY has brought an incredible culture to the school, so much so that HERRRBY is part of the school vocabulary, and if children make asides, others will remind them that HERRRBY would not say something like that. Principal Janine Hall and her team are doing an incredible job.

It is heartening to also know that there are also incredible organisations working on these issues, including the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and Bully Zero.

I look forward to the minister’s response.