National Anti-Bullying Day

 

Firstly, for those who aren’t familiar with the foundation – could you please sum up exactly what it entails?

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation is a national charity focusing on protecting children from violence and creating behaviour change in the community to reduce bullying and cyber bullying.

The Foundation was set up in memory of Alannah and Madeline Mikac, aged six and three, who were tragically killed with their mother and 32 others at Port Arthur, Tasmania on 28th April 1996.

The Foundation believes that no child should feel unsafe or be threatened with violence.

We believe that confident, secure, resilient and inspired young people are our hope for the future.

The lives of 1.9 million children and young people have been improved since the Foundation launched 20 years ago. We can and will do more.


At what stage did the organisation evolve from a story about two girls being taken by a gunman, to raising awareness around anti-bullying?

 The National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) was formed in 2002 recognising that bullying is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by children.

Our Better Buddies program started soon after. Better Buddies pairs students entering their first year of primary school with an older buddy to help them feel safe, valued and connected to their new school community, while older students feel valued and respected.

When students have the skills and understanding of how to engage in positive, respectful and inclusive relationships, then negative and violent behaviour – such as bullying – can be reduced.

 The Foundation aims to affect long-term cultural changes by working with schools, parents and community.


Have you found that children struggled to understand what violence and bullying was before you educated them in schools?

Much of our work is conducted with parents and teachers, we provide educational frameworks, training and tools to carers to better support children.

Our work directly with children occurs through our Children Ahead, Buddy Bags and Cubby House programs; these children have sadly have witnessed serious bullying and violence before we connect with them.


What strategies does the team use, to help teach children understand whether they’re being bullied, are the bullies or in an unsafe situation at home?

I will share an example from our Our Children Ahead team – they undertake a comprehensive assessment process that includes children, parents/carers and teachers. This usually identifies any risk factors regarding bullying and assists us in establishing a case plan that establishes the childs safety and builds their individual resilience and pro-social skills.

For many children and young people who have experienced significant trauma, they can lack the necessary template for healthy relationships and may need to learn this.

We work with parents, carers and teachers to support the child and understand the child’s behaviour from a trauma perspective so that they can respond in a way which promotes recovery and resilience. We promote trauma-informed practice in classrooms through the provision of workshops, inclusion of teachers in the development of care plans and through other professional development opportunities.


Besides the AMF story – can you share an inspiring story or moment where you’ve realised that this foundation is seriously making a difference?

We receive feedback from schools, parents and children every single day, in the post or via our social channels. Many of the children and parents who have been supported by the Foundation are still in contact, many volunteer with us and attend annual fundraising events. It is really special seeing the Foundation’s work making a difference.

Attached is a post card from a child who received our Buddy Bags (Buddy Bags are backpacks containing new and essential items, such as toiletries, pyjamas, socks, underwear and a pillowcase, as well as a book, photo frame and teddy bear. Our Buddy Bags program helps children in emergency accommodation by providing them with a backpack of basic essential items on arrival.)


National anti-bullying day is coming up; can you please tell us what you’ll be doing to be a part of this important day?

We know that many parents, students and educators are desperate for information on how best to approach bullying behaviours. The Foundation has a number of programs which aim to reduce bullying behaviours.

Tomorrow marks the seventh National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence - encouraging schools and communities to share anti-bullying policies, strategies and programs in support of those adversely affected.

Through our speaker consultancy service 'Connect', we offer information based webinars and seminars with our bullying and cyber bullying experts. Tomorrow we have over 50 schools across the country participating in webinars to discuss ways to manage bullying behaviours and as well as face-to-face school visits and an eSmart launch event in Tasmania.

Throughout the week media have asked us to comment on the state of bullying in education and to respond to Ian Thorpe’s program Bullied. You can see our comments and that of many concerned parents via our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/AlannahMadelineFoundation/


Young people currently want to get involved in organisations who give back, more than ever before. How can they get involved with AMF?

There are many ways young people can get involved. Our youngest community fundraisers have been 5 years old! We’ve had all sorts of community fundraiser from buskers and cake makers too.

Young people can also assist at events, or offer skills and services, for example, graphic design, to help us to build a safer world for children.

Thank you.

To find out more about this foundation:
 www.amf.org.au