Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 17 October 2017



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 17 October 2017

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Parliamentary Record 8


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 17 October 2017 2602 behind me at Woolworths; bought coffee for the people behind me in line at a cafe; purchased new clothing for women who have had to leave behind their belongings when fleeing from domestic violence. I have paid for airfares for kids to participate in sporting events or attend a forum. I cannot begin to te ll you how many pairs of shoes I have purchased for kids to wear on their first day of school. I have lost count of the number of youths I have spent time with, sometimes just listening, other times talking to them, helping them get through the crisis of the moment. I have worked with women and children, victims of violence, cried with them, driven them to hospital, assisted in finding shelter and getting them the support they need. I have also been there for people who needed someone to sit with them while they cried for no reason other than the fact they felt really sad at that moment. Two weeks ago I had a constituent sit in my office distraught, sobbing. I will not go into details, but meeting this constituent strengthened my resolve to continue doing what I do, that is, to advocate for and on behalf of Katherine. After each episode in my life which saw me overcome some difficult times, I would say to myself, I will never let another person go through this kind of situation on their own. I will never say no to someone in need. And I have not. Over the last several months I have been subjected to badgering from people who have made a presumption that I do not understand mental health issues or suicide. They have come to this conclusion because I have publicly supported and celebrated the announcement of headspace in Katherine, something they do not agree with. According to some of these people I have been advocating for all the wrong reasonsit is not good enough; it is a waste of time and money; and i f I had a clue about the real issues I would be advocating for more services and not just youth mental health. It is as if to say I have not been doing that anyway. According to the same group of people, I am clueless because I have not worked on the front line, dealing directly with community. I have been struggling not to let their comments and criticisms affect me personally. It is difficult at times, but after all, they do not know my personal story. Not many people outside of my family know my personal story. Unless they are someone I have helped, they would not know what I have done for others at personal cost to myself. They would not know because I do not really get into self-promotion about what I do. I do not publicise it; I just do it and I do i t without judgement or expectation. I was, however, astonished and saddened to read that one of these people went so far as to draw comparison of how many people they have helped versus how many I have helped, as if helping others is something to be measured by numbers. I think back on the number of people my parents have helped over my lifetime, and they did so without judgement or expectation also. I am really proud to have been raised by parents who showed me by example that actions speak far louder than words. At the beginning of this year I spoke in adjournment about cyber bullying and I am doing that again tonight. It is extremely sad that I felt the need to do this. While social media has facilitated our generations communication and connection unlike any other, it has also created a platform for people to spread maliciousness, prejudice, racism, sexism and a variety of other forms of speech that further divides a community, and this has been brought back to the forefront of everyones minds in the last 10 days in Katherine. Mob mentalities are present in both the physical and online world. Cyber bullying has had a huge impact on many of our most vulnerable populations: youth; Indigenous people; women; individuals with disabilities; and people with mental illness. While we are proficient in many aspects of social media, we also fall short in education on how to take action against bullying that we witness online. As far as I am concerned, it is just the same as taking physically, face-to-face. Not only are the majority of social media users unaware of their rights and options for taking action, but speaking up against hate speech is intimidating, especially when faced with a group. There are a number of barriers that hold us back from taking a stand against hate speech, but there are so many reasons for us to stand strong and stand up against bullying. There is nothing better for your mental health than a strong and healthy support network. If you or someone you know is experiencing cyber bullying or is a target of hate speech, reach out in whatever way you can. You are not alone.