Byron Bay High student Alamela Rowan says the bullying she experienced on Australia's Next Top Model was intense.
Byron Bay High student Alamela Rowan says the bullying she experienced on Australia's Next Top Model was intense. Australia's Next Top Model/Fox 8

Catwalk cat fight sparks outrage

AUSTRALIA'S Next Top Model producers have come under fire for vicious bullying that caused South Golden Beach contestant Alamela Rowan to have a tearful breakdown.

"I'm not enjoying myself any more. It's just a horrible place to be," the 17-year-old Byron Bay High School student said in controversial footage that made headlines this week.

"Living in a confined space with so many girls just being awful is really difficult."

The footage shows Alamela being pelted with a water bomb and doused in a bowl of water, and being subject to verbal taunts from fellow contestants during the fourth series of the reality program.

The bullying was led by youngest contestant Demelza Reveley, 16, herself the victim of playground bullying in the past.

Back at Byron Bay High School now that the show's filming is complete, Alamela told The Northern Star she hopes her experience brings bullying into the public spotlight.

Bullying in the house was so bad she had considered leaving the show.

"It's a really big issue that needs to be addressed," she said.

"I didn't expect it to be so intense. It was difficult coming back to the house every day.

"They think they're cool because they're able to criticise other people. I just think they were bored."

Alamela received counselling for the bullying and the judges reprimanded the girls behind it, but no further action was taken.

Southern Cross University's Associate Professor Karen Brooks, the author of the book Consuming Innocence; Popular Culture and Our Children, said it was unfortunate that the ringleader of the bullying would probably benefit from her behaviour.

Producers had possibly failed in their duty of care to Alamela by putting the contests in a 'hot house' situation where they were encouraged to criticise each other and point out physical flaws, Prof Brooks said.

"Often when you're the victim of bullying, guilt is involved," she said. "It would be a pity is she (Alamela) did feel guilt over this.

"They are putting them in a competition to win camera time. It doesn't matter if they win or not, if they're on camera they might get something out of it.

"What I can't believe is there are no appropriate consequences. The ringleaders are still in the competition, so really their behaviour is rewarded."


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