Culture shift needed to prevent bullying

YESTERDAY I had the privilege of sitting down with State MLC Robyn Parker, chair of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Bullying of Children and Young People.

I joined other committee members of the Northern Rivers Anti-Bullying Alliance – the Uncle Project CEO Mark Gasson; Regan Harding and Mark Jewell from TAFE; Professor Anne Graham from Southern Cross University; and Karen Mackenzie from the Department of Education – in discussing this important issue with Ms Parker. It was agreed there were no easy answers and that the solutions, ultimately, mean changing our culture.

Bullying behaviour has always had a comfortable home in our macho Aussie culture and it is a big challenge to change it. But that is what we must do if every Australians right to be who they are, no matter their differences, is to be upheld.

Until this occurs, Australia will continue to lag behind other Western countries with regard to bullying, whether it is in our schools, workplaces or our homes.

Unfortunately, our youth are continually harangued by displays of bullying on our TV and movie screens, where it seems it is okay to denigrate someone because they appear to be different. About one-in-six children suffer the trauma of bullying in Australia and this is way too high.

The impact of bullying affects not only the target, but also the perpetrator and even the onlooker for many years, often for life.

As Professor Graham said yesterday, it is everyone’s responsibility to be vigilant and to say no to
bullying behaviour.

Our children must be cherished. And we must let them know they matter in our community.


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