Many Australians, particularly those living in Victoria, are familiar with the story of Brodie Panlock, who was bullied so much by her fellow employees that she committed suicide by jumping off a building. She was just 19.
Even though they contributed to her death, her bullies walked away with simply a fine. But resulting from the advocacy of Brodie’s parents, the Victorian Government changed the legislation so that victims of bullying were provided with greater rights, while their tormentors now risk receiving harsher punishments – a jail term of up to 10 years. Perhaps most importantly, the amendment to the Crimes Act allowed education packages to be distributed to 8000 schools, police stations and workplaces across Victoria.
Whilst this amendment is the first step of many more to come, we need to make Brodie’s Law national. We also need to start an education program highlighting the dangers of bullying to ensure young people are taught tolerance, acceptance and respect for others regardless of who they are.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister Bill Shorten agree that Brodie’s Law should become national. I have started to float the idea about launching a similar concept in NSW and across Australia. And yet I have even encountered four objections:
Objection #1 Censorship: However, Brodie’s Law has been passed in Victoria for over a year now – and yet the model has demonstrated no censorship whatsoever.
Objection #2 Ineffective Law: But the effectiveness of a law should not be measured by the number of convictions but by how well it prevents the crime from occurring.
Objection #3 Legislative Confusion: However, there is confusion with the current complex system, which is why the legislation should fall simply under the Crimes Act as criminal harassment.
Objection #4 Other states will object: And yet we recently filmed a series of politicians from across several parties and states who believe that bullying is an issue and must be resolved.
The Community Brave Foundation, working with Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich, has launched a campaign and petition to ask for the support of the Australian public in making the following actions punishable under the Crimes Act:
Making threats to a victim
Using abusive or offensive words to (or in the presence of) a victim
Performing abusive or offensive acts in the presence of a victim
Directing abusive or offensive acts towards a victim
Further, we seek to replicate the Victorian legislation by broadening the definition of stalking into one of bullying with the following statement:
“…that could reasonably be expected to cause physical or mental harm to the victim, including self-harm; or to arouse apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of another person with the intention of causing the above harm”
Some say that current laws provide enough coverage, but they do not, because these proposed amendments take into account the debilitating consequence of psychological harm.
The Community Brave Foundation will roll out videos and an online petition soon. We currently have an offline petition that we are asking people to print, sign and return to us to support our objectives. We ask for people who share our mission to promote it via their social networks, including their workplaces.
Minister Peter Garrett AM, MP features in the first of the videos rolled out today of support to the initiatives. Check it out below:
[youtube id=”hPyXB8dSz-Q” width=”620″ height=”360″]
The Foundation will also seek to work with the government to develop an education package that can be distributed to all schools, police stations and workplaces in NSW, replicating the Victorian model and kick-starting the ongoing education on bullying.
Independent MP Alex Greenwich will help drive attention to the cause in the NSW Legislative Assembly and work with The Community Brave Foundation to deliver these discussions.
by Rami Mandow • The Community Brave Foundation
You can read Rami Mandow’s full opinion piece here.