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SPEECH: Bully Zero

National  Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence
Speech in Parliament

19 March 2015 

Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (15:22:01): I rise today to speak about the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence tomorrow and, with pride, wear the orange ribbon on my lapel to signify the anti-bullying message and also to commend the group Bully Zero Australia Foundation, which has just moved into South Australia and doing support and work in that area.

It was great to hear the Minister for Education speak about bullying earlier in this chamber. It was disappointing that she was not present for the launch at Hallett Cove last week.

There were some great people present. I welcomed the state manager, Julie Clifton, and Oscar Yuldiz, the executive director, was there as well, along with Ali Halkic, the Leader of the Opposition (the member for Dunstan) and several council members; and school groups (including the Mitcham girls school) were represented. Emma Dorling and her mum, Helen, were also there. Emma is a worker for the Bully Zero group and has suffered from bullying herself, and she is doing a marvellous job helping out with that group.

It is intriguing and important to listen to the mission statement of this group. They do a marvellous job, as I said, working in this area in the community. I commend them for undertaking the venture and coming across to South Australia. They have done some great work in Victoria and other states and now they are here in South Australia helping out in our community.

The mission of Bully Zero Foundation Australia is 'to provide genuine and enduring care for bullying victims and their families'. They exist to identify and empower bullying victims and to support and stand side by side with them, their families and friends in taking action and creating permanent positive change. They are dedicated and committed to raising awareness of bullying and its devastating consequences through schools, workplaces and the broader community. They aim to empower and provide young people with hands-on educational strategies to prevent bullying and work with bullies and their families to help create positive behavioural change. That is to be commended.

I mentioned Ali Halkic, who is one of the directors on the board, and he does a marvellous job. The way this foundation was set up actually centres around his son.
Social media had a big part to play, and I got to speak to Ali and he told some great stories, and he very much blames himself for what happened to his son who, very sadly, committed suicide after being bullied online through social media. He does blame himself, in a situation where he should not. He says that if he did not charge his son's phone, if he did not give him access to the internet, if he did not do this, if he did not do that, perhaps it would not have happened. It is a very sad tale, but he is doing some wonderful work with the rest of the group to make sure that it does not happen to people in the future.

It was interesting to hear the minister earlier, as I said, talk about bullying. It happens in such a variety of ways. People of my generation know it more in the face to face manner, but it is really the move online that has created a lot of interest and a lot of concern about bullying in that area. We probably all know and have experienced and seen and fight against the bullying that is more face to face that we might see in schools, workplaces, or around, we are very conscious of that, I am very interested in the silent bullying which might happen online.

As a parent of four young children, I was really impressed with the way this Bully Zero group goes about helping kids in that space. They go to the schools and they educate the children. It actually instigated, or triggered, a conversation in our family about online bullying. As I said, with four children, a 21 year old at the top end and a 12 year old at the bottom end, we were talking as a family. The 21 year old was talking about the things she had experienced going through the early Myspace phase and evolving through social media as she went through that age group, but then we spoke to my younger daughter, who is only nine years apart, and in her case she was experiencing newer things. So, it is very important to be conscious of that.

After the conversation with our family, my wife went away and got on Instagram, not to follow the member for Bright, but to follow my daughter and to be aware of what is going on. So, I would stress that to all families: you may not be into social media, but your kids are. It is good to be involved so that you can see what is going on. My wife's plan was to try to circumvent any bullying that may go on on social media.

I commend all the ambassadors, too. There are a couple of prominent South Australians there. Derrick McManus is helping out with this group, along with a past colleague of mine, George Donikian. Jimmy Jeggo and Osama Malik from Adelaide United and Stephen Kernahan, former Carlton and Glenelg great, are also great supporters of this group, along with a number of other people who are doing a great job. To finish, I recommend that everyone have a look at Bully Zero and if you have any issues with bullying 1800 0BULLY is the phone number to call where they can help you out.

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