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Doing it for Dolly

95 per cent of teenagers are online. 85 per cent of them use social media. It is safe to say the digital world is a community that each and every young person feels compelled to take part in. After all, if you’re not online, you just aren’t connected, and many would say you are at a disadvantage when it comes to cultivating and facilitating meaningful relationships.

Now consider this – 60 per cent of teenagers have reported being cyberbullied, with 70 per cent of teenagers reporting rumours about them being spread online. And it’s not just children. 40 per cent of adults have experienced some type of online harassment and stalking, with 16 per cent of women and 1 in 19 men reporting being stalked and

harassed online. And if that’s not enough, 4 in 10 people have experienced online harassment.

Bullying is no longer confined to the playground. With social interactions moving online, so too are bullies, only they no longer physically provoke and aggress others – they do so through online harassment, stalking and reputational damage. And research shows children and young people may be experiencing online harassment unbeknownst to their parents and family. Similar research also reveals parents may not understand how serious these experiences are or the detrimental impacts they can have on their child.

It was this behaviour – online harassment – sustained and severe, which resulted in the tragic death of 14-year-old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett in January 2018. Dolly had been provoked, belittled, harassed and bullied in the most inhumane and unrelenting manner from her peers, which led her to believe there was no escape, except what she gave herself.

Dolly’s memory lives on through Dolly’s Dream, a foundation created by Kate and Tick Everett to raise awareness for the impact of cyberbullying, not just on victims, but on families and communities. The Everett family are committed to breaking the silence around bullying, to unite communities in the fight against bullying and to spread the message that bullying and harassment, in any form, on any platform and in any way, is NOT acceptable.

In response to the tragedy that befell the Everett family, a young girl embarked on a campaign to empower the voices of victims and contribute to this message.

This year, Do it for Dolly Day falls on Friday, May 12th, with residents local to the Dubbo region encouraged to wear blue (Dolly’s favourite colour) and participate in a series of family-oriented events hosted by Maas Group Holdings. I was fortunate enough to have secured an interview with Maas Group Holdings Chief Operating Officer Andrew Letfallah who spoke on the significance of the Dolly’s Dream Foundation and what it means to regional communities, particularly to those who have lived experiences with cyber-bullying.

“Being headquartered in Regional Australia, we were aware of the tragic story of Dolly Everett. Bullying, anxiety and depression have such an overwhelming flow on effect – especially when it comes to young people. In regional communities, that impact can feel even greater.”

Dolly was from the Northern Territory, and it wasn’t just her community who was impacted. Dolly’s story reached international news and sent waves of shock and grief throughout Australia, particularly regarding the media coverage it received, the message that was conveyed, and the impact it had in starting a conversation that desperately needed to be had.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of people from within our staff community opening up about the impacts that bullying, suicide, anxiety and depression has had on them and their loved ones,” Andrew said.

It is this conversation that Maas Group Holdings will be facilitating this Friday at the Macquarie Club, Dubbo. In the past, Maas has raised a significant amount of funding for Dolly’s Dream, with a total of $8, 000 raised in 2022 alone. This year, they have committed themselves to surpassing this amount. Families and community members can attend the ‘Do it for Dolly’ day event and for $5, can participate in barefoot bowls, kid’s games, a community raffle, a ‘Kindness Corner’ and information sessions aimed at spreading awareness for cyber-bullying and Dolly’s message. Maas will even match a considerable portion of the donations made on the day, all of which will go directly to the foundation.

Maas will also be expanding their events to Rockhampton, Sydney, Newcastle, Orange, Perth and Brisbane to ensure Dolly’s message reaches as many communities as possible. Take part in the conversation and give generously. Donations can be made directly to Dolly’s Dream, or through Maas fundraising initiative. And for those who need free, confidential support, the Dolly’s Dream 24-hour support line is open to you on 0488 881 033.

Be committed to the fight against bullying. Understand the importance of spreading kindness to others and be aware of the devastating impacts cyber-bullying can have on individuals and their loved ones. Normalise having conversations with children about the risks of the digital world and encourage them to open up when they experience harmful content. The internet is a central component to the lives of us all, and ensuring it is a safe space for social interactions and authentic expression is a cause worth taking part in.

Do it for Dolly.

Written by Megan Adler.

BA/BCMS (DS), MTeach (Sec)

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