A small team from Cairns dedicated to stopping bullying amongst young people took to the road on a 750-kilometre road trip to the Gulf of Carpentaria to visit five of the state’s most isolated schools.
Ryan Fede, a Connect Facilitator with the national charity Alannah and Madeline Foundation, spoke to school children in Mt. Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton and Karumba, along the Gulf Development Road.
He was accompanied by Kate Pemberton, Cairns Branch Manager for Komatsu which is funding the venture through a company initiative called Live Your Dream.
Komatsu encourages its employees to propose worthy community projects for grants of up to $10,000 and Kate put forward support for Dolly’s Dream, an anti-bullying campaign which honors the memory of teenager Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett.
Fourteen-year-old Dolly took her own life in 2018 as a result of systemic bullying and her parents Kate and Tick, from Katherine in the Northern Territory, started Dolly’s Dream as a way to help other youngsters.
Dolly’s Dream has become part of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, an anti-violence charity formed in 1996 to honor sisters Alannah, 6, and Madeline, 3 who died with their mother in the Port Arthur massacre which took 35 lives.
Some of the schools Ryan and Kate visited have just one principal and one shared teacher and total enrolments of less than 40.
“Teaching kids and parents about online safety is so important. Bullying, depression, anxiety, and youth suicide know no boundaries so I wanted the opportunity for these more remote communities to have access to the support and education that Dolly’s Dream can offer. It just might help start a conversation that could save a life”, Kate Pemberton said.
“I’m so pleased we’re able to do something in our own far north Queensland community to offer direct support and education to young people and their families. A lot of the students at these schools will attend boarding school for their senior schooling, similar to Dolly Everett. Helping them learn about and be conscious of their online safety in preparation for that time can only be a good thing”.
As one initiative, Dolly’s Dream has introduced an e-Smart framework for schools which teaches young people good internet behavior, and importantly helps them deal with bad behavior. More than 270,000 students nationally have signed up to the e-Smart digital license program, including 1500 since it was rolled out recently in Queensland.
Kate Pemberton and Ryan Fede started their road trip on Monday May 2, concluding in Georgetown on Thursday May 5.
By the end, they had presented their Connect program to around 1000 parents, teachers, and students.