Creating change

You have to be a good friend to find good friends says Circular Head Christian School student William Dawson, 8, who was recently recognised at Government House in Sydney, New South Wales as part of an anti-bullying campaign. 

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Competition. Circular Head Christian School student William Dawson is a strong advocate of standing up for what you believe in. 

The eight-year-old was one of 20 regional finalists recognised at Government House in Sydney, New South Wales earlier this month as part of an anti-bullying competition. William was one of three Tasmanian finalists acknowledged at the awards where he received the top honour for the state.

More than 45,000 primary school students from across the country entered the Say No To Bullying poster competition this year, run by Interrelate. The competition followed the theme of Bullieve in Yourself inspired by the 20th Century Fox movie Ferdinand.

“I see people being nice to each other in the playground,” he says, and with this in mind found the inspiration for his poster. 

Allowing his imagination and real life experiences to influence his work, the poster evolved to promote a strong message.

“If I do see bullying I say, stop it and tell the bullies to move away. Then I say they can come play with me and my friends,” William says of recognising anti-social behaviour.

“It’s better to be a friend than a bully.”

Now in his second year of Shim Jang Taekwondo, William has learnt respect on his journey to earning a yellow belt, green tip. 

A not-for-profit organisation, Interrelate aims to create respectful and resilient relationships across society by providing education and training, counselling, family and parenting support, and mental health services. 

Now in its fifth year, the annual competition focuses on raising awareness of bullying and assisting schools in identifying and addressing this behaviour. 

Patricia Occelli, chief executive officer at Interrelate, says she was uplifted by the willingness of children to be involved in the anti-bullying conversation.

“What these figures show is that victims of bullying are not alone and that there is in fact an army of other young people willing to stand beside them,” she says. 

“We know that there is power in numbers and really encourage young people who see bullying behaviours in their schools to step up and let the victims know that it’s not the entire world against them. Let them know that they are worth standing up for and that you will stay with them until things change for the better.”

“It’s better to be a friend than a bully.”

William Dawson, 8

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