Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Port Lincoln Hungry Jacks - Still waiting for Better Burgers.

After the premises adjacent to KFC on Hallett Place was demolished, the rumour mill has once again stepped into overdrive that Hungry Jacks is finally coming to Port Lincoln.

It is disappointing, however, to announce that once again, it is just that; a rumour.

A Hungry Jack’s Spokesperson confirmed today that “Hungry Jack's does not currently have plans for a new restaurant in Port Lincoln”.

It is also understood that the owner of the site, Sarin Property Group, has no plans for an application to build a Hungry Jacks outlet on the site, nor have any plans been submitted to council for such development.

If however, someone does wish to bring the fast food giant to Port Lincoln, I for one would support it.

A Facebook group named “Hungry Jacks in Port Lincoln”, dedicated to bringing the popular fast food chain to Port Lincoln, has amassed over 1800 ‘likes’ since it was created back in 2009, so I get the feeling my views are shared.

The closest Hungry Jacks outlet to Port Lincoln is located in Whyalla, which means a round trip exceeding 500km... and one very expensive Whopper!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Herald Sun shift Logies leak blame away from Google

Further details have come to light surrounding the bout of premature e-publication Melbourne-based newspaper the Herald Sun experienced on Sunday night, after naming Hamish Blake online as the 2012 Gold Logie Winner before he received the award at the Logie Ceremony.
During an interview on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast this morning, Simon Pristel, Editor of the Herald Sun, said: “It turns out that Google had somehow searched into our system and found the story that was published in the paper but had never been published on the website”.

When Mr Pristel was questioned on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast; “Are you a bit worried that Google are inside your organisation? In a business that relies on leaks, are you disappointed that one leaked out of your building?”, Mr Pristel replied “Yeah look clearly at our end we’ve some sort of technical issue with the new iPad app which has allowed Google to go in and find an unpublished story, so that’s what we are trying to get to the bottom of today.”

If roles were reversed and a newspaper searched into someone else’s system, a voicemail box or computer for example, there would be loud cries of hacking.

As reported by The Australian, Google released a statement refuting these claims: "While we strive to provide the freshest, most relevant search results on the Logies and more, Google can only index material already published on the web."

The Twitter world today erupted into comments surrounding the “blame Google” mentality.

A lot of questions surrounding the leak surfaced and there was no one better to go to than the horses mouth itself, Editor of the Herald Sun, Simon Pristel.

When I contacted Mr Pristel today I received a very prompt response with some great updated information regarding the incident. In a statement sent by the Herald Sun:

“We have been able to do some further investigations today which shine more light on what went wrong.”

“The story was not published on the Herald Sun website or m-site or Tweeted by a Herald Sun employee. However, when it was placed into a holding environment to be pushed live after the embargo was lifted, the story inadvertently was able to be indexed by Google and therefore became searchable.”

“In effect, a page that was meant to be hidden, that was never intended to see the light of day until after an embargo was lifted at 12midnight, was inadvertently published to the web and became searchable via Google.”

“During the live testing, a link to an embargoed story naming the winner was momentarily created (by the Herald Sun) and (became searchable) by Google.”

“Google is in no way responsible for what happened. We did not intend to imply any error on Google’s behalf.”

“The error was certainly accidental in that there was no deliberate intention to break the strict Logies embargo.”

“We apologise and hope it did not ruin viewers’ overall Logies experience.”

Accidents do happen and this, as big as the accident may be, is understandable.

While mystery still surrounds where the writers of the leaked story got the official comment from Hamish Blake blaming his win on ‘Donkey voting’ (considering the award hadn’t been presented at the time the story went online), it is still good to see the Herald Sun have investigated the Logie leak and provided an update.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Parents in limbo as backlog plagues Child Support Agency.

In 2011 the Australian Child Support Agency implemented a new process for Change of Assessment (COA) applications which they hoped would speed up lengthy processing times.

Prior to this change, COA applications were generally processed within 75-90 days of being allocated to a Senior Case Officer (SCO). By implementing the new system, it was anticipated that waiting times would be cut to 35-50 days from the date of allocation to a SCO. That was the plan.

A COA application can be lodged for a variety of reasons. This allows adjustments to be made to the amount of Child Support a parent pays. The changes can go both ways, either increasing or decreasing the amount paid to the receiving parent.

Once a COA application is lodged with Child Support Agency it is, according to a source at Child Support Agency, scanned into the computer where it awaits allocation to a SCO.

In early January of 2012 Child Support Agency advised via their website that:

“A decision maker will contact you to discuss your application approximately five to six weeks after it is received. We appreciate your patience during a time of higher than usual Change of Assessment Applications and look forward to speaking with you soon.”

Five to six weeks is not the time from lodgment to closure of the application, but the time ‘customers’ must wait before their applications are even addressed.

There is no way that in private enterprise the general public would put up with that sort of service. Can you imagine crashing your car and lodging a claim with your insurance company only to be told, ‘Yes it has been received, we’ll call you in five to six weeks to have a chat about it’.

After becoming aware of this I contacted Child Support Agency and was advised that the backlog had further blown out to up to eight weeks, with one source claiming the number of applications sitting scanned into the system and awaiting delegation was into the thousands.

Child Support Agency falls under the portfolio of the Hon. Brendan O’Connor Minister for Human Services. He replaced the Hon. Tanya Plibersek after PM Julia Gillard’s cabinet reshuffle in late 2011.

Minister O’Connor’s office advised that two intakes of staff in mid and late 2011 had been put in place to combat the increased amount of applications and that Child Support Agency are working as hard as possible to get on top of the backlog.

Speaking on behalf of Minister O’Connor, Jim McMahon, National Manager of Specialised Assessment Services with the Department of Human Services, said although more staff have been recruited he was happy overall with their competence of processing;

“A SCO (Senior Case Officer) requires a good understanding and knowledge of child support legislation, policies, guidelines and precedent case law. While any new SCO will obviously require a period of training and adjustment, I am quite satisfied that the recently appointed SCO’s are experienced and highly trained officers capable of quickly adapting to their new roles.”

When questioned regarding outstanding applications numbering in the thousands and how quickly the backlog will be cleared, Jim McMahon did not deny this number, preferring to take the easy path of response;

“The number of applications awaiting allocation varies from week to week. We are working hard to reduce the backlog and ensure that all applications are allocated and determined as quickly as possible.”

With the speed at which applications can be processed not appearing to be an issue, the spotlight now turns to the applications themselves. Jim McMahon briefly touched on this issue;

“It is not uncommon for us to receive a certain number of incomplete or ineligible COA (Change of Assessment) applications from customers. As you can appreciate, responding to these applications can be time consuming and impact on our capacity to respond to eligible and complete applications.”

When questioned about exactly what types of issues are holding up the applications and what customers can do to help cut down the extensive backlog, Jim McMahon declined to comment.

After making enquiries with Child Support Agency and the Minister’s Office, plus lodging a ministerial complaint regarding how long my own application was going to take, the Child Support website was quickly updated to remove any advice of waiting times, stating:

“If you have already lodged a Change of Assessment application and are waiting for us to contact you, we are currently experiencing a higher than usual volume of Change of Assessment applications. Thank you for your patience. A decision maker will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your application.”

On this note, whilst I didn’t expect to be pushed ahead of everyone else, lodging a complaint with the Minister’s Office without a doubt saw my application get delegated with priority, and finalised within three weeks of it being received in early January 2011.

Even though the COA is backdated to the original date of lodgment, waiting customers are left in limbo not knowing what is happening or what the outcome of their application will be.

Child Support Agency advises that people who are going to lodge applications should contact Child Support Agency first, with their website now stating:

“This option is only suitable for a small number of customer circumstances. You may have a quicker, simpler option than applying for a Change of Assessment. It is important that you call us on 131 141 to find out more before you use this form.”

If you have lodged an application and are still unhappy with how long your application is taking to be assigned to a SCO, it is advised that you contact the Child Support Agency Complaints area in the first instance. If you are still unsatisfied, it is amazing what a ministerial complaint can do.

With the backlog still remaining, I do not for one second believe that SCO’s are sitting around relaxing and having a coffee and chat. I am sure they are working hard. It would be nice to put further staff on, however with Child Support Agency being Tax payer funded, this would not be the ideal option for the Tax payer.

Child Support Agency has seen COA Applications received from July 2011 to January 2012 increase by 11.5% compared to the same period in 2010/2011.

In a recent Department of Human Services internal memo, it was stated that:

“Customers who have lodged COA applications from early December 2011 up to the week of 6 February 2012 will be progressively contacted during the period 13 February 2012 through to mid March 2012.”

Let’s hope valuable information similar to this will be made publically available on the Child Support Agency website shortly. It appears that the backlog will not be cleared any time soon, so the least they can do is be honest with their customers regarding application processing times.

Customers of Child Support Agency are already faced with massive levels of stress and do not need these levels being pushed any higher by an out of touch Government Department.

Hopefully more compassion and understanding from the department towards customers needs can help end the stigma that Child Support Agency is an Australian mental health liability.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

My advice to parents, who through no fault of their own, are restricted from seeing their children.

Many parents miss their children after being away from them for a short period of time. Whether it’s due to parents holidaying on their own, children going away on a school camp, or the sense that something is missing once your adult children have moved out of home.

Well imagine being in the situation where you are restricted from seeing your children. Not because of your wrong doings, but due to your child’s other parent using the child as a pawn in selfish games. This is the situation a growing number of Australians find themselves in.

While the courts recognise equal and shared parenting, it remains unfortunate that without court intervention this situation is typified by the fathers being those who are restricted. This isn’t an anti-female statement; it’s fact.

There are a lot of good fathers out there who simply want to see their children and be a part of their lives. Yet in a growing number of cases the mother restricts this and to be quite honest there is no excuse for it.

This is the situation I am in and I know I am not alone. It is by far one of life’s more difficult and stressful situations to be in. Whilst I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, if you manage to get through it, it can prove to be a huge life building experience.

I only knew my ex for a very short time and we split up early into her pregnancy.

After we split, I was given the advice from a very good and wise friend to simply cut ties with her. I was told I am still only young and have plenty of time to find a girl who deserves me to start a family with.

Whilst many people choose to simply walk away, this is not something I could do. There is always the chance of one day being asked the question “Dad, why weren’t you around when I was younger?”

This simple but important question is one you may be faced with. Just thinking of being asked this question, and focusing on what the answer will be, has proved useful in getting through this. It has helped me focus on my son’s best interests, rather than what I want, and ultimately his best interests are of the upmost importance.

The excuse of “Ask your mother” isn’t a good enough reply either. Remember that your child has been brought up by someone who has denied you the simple liberty of seeing them: and that person is hardly going to be singing your praise and admitting to their own faults.

Document everything. Not only is it important if you decide to go to court, but it will all be there to show your child should they ask of you the question above. When your child sees how much effort you’ve put in trying to have contact with them, you will reap the rewards.

Many child psychologists I’ve spoken to have explained the importance of children needing to know their parents care about them. If your child can see you care about them, they will be more accepting to build that relationship with you, rather than if you replied with “Well I couldn’t be bothered fighting to see you”.

Rarely these situations change overnight, so come to accept this and strap yourself in for the ride. Understand that it will be a long and stressful haul. Being naïve and thinking such an undertaking will be a walk in the park can only lead to a severe personal demise. Think and focus on the long term goal.

Early on, this situation of being denied access to my son, took me to some of the very lowest and darkest places of my life. It got to a point where I was trying my hardest to see my child, however nothing I did worked. Having been involved with far too many people who have been affected by suicide, I walked into my local hospital very distraught and struggling to get out the words “I need to talk to someone”.

There is no shame in seeking help and talking to people. I only had two sessions speaking with a professional and the simple feeling of getting everything off my chest helped. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Whilst some may think that a majority of society operates by the mentality that “Men can’t have problems”, this isn’t the case. No one is going to think any less of you if you speak to them about how you are feeling. Bottling things up will not work. It will end up eating you alive.

There are many men’s groups around to speak with and please go in with an open mind. Be aware however of some support groups who exude an “Us Vs Them” mentality. These are the types you want to stay away from. It should be about both parents working together for the best interests of the child, not about women versus men.

Find a hobby to take your mind off things. Whether it’s joining the local sports club, seeing your friends more often or catching up with those you haven’t seen in awhile, or even taking up origami, the ability to learn to relax is one that will prove useful.

Learn to laugh at the situation. This might sound odd but honestly how ridiculous is the situation of being restricted from seeing your child! If you start to feel down, just think about it for a minute, know within yourself you are doing everything right, and laugh.

Every situation in life is a mindset. The brain is a very powerful tool and once you have learnt to master it you can achieve and conquer any situation. Whilst it is hard to do at times, if you can learn to control your mindset and outlook, you will feel a lot better for it.

Educate yourself. If you haven’t been in this situation before you may not know your full legal rights and entitlements. You will benefit from putting in the research should you decide to go to court and represent yourself. The internet can prove to be a huge resource for information and there are also free telephone advice lines.

It also pays to sit down for a discussion with a lawyer specialising in family law. I am very pro self representation, mainly because of the extravagant amounts being charged if you decide to be represented in court by a lawyer, yet picking the brains of a professional does comes in handy.

However, one lawyer I went to see early on was late with the appointment, only spoke to me for twenty minutes, dodged the questions I asked, ended up telling me nothing I didn’t already know and sent me a bill for over $200! So, ask around before going to see a lawyer and only go on referrals from others.

Anyway, what parent thinks that it’s their right to tell an innocent child that – No, you can’t see your father/mother/aunty/uncle/grandparents etc. This is where the best interests of a child get pushed aside and the deciding parent’s selfishness takes the number one spot. Let’s remember that children are human beings with feelings and emotions, not possessions. I think some parents forget that.

One of the final points I would like to make is realise that you can only control your own actions. No matter how much people would like to inject some sense into those parents who restrict access, the only one who can change is the person in question. Just as the only person that can control your actions is yourself. You can choose to change others, or you can choose to change yourself. You will find the latter is a hell of a lot easier. Remember, it’s all about the mindset. Control your own actions and know within yourself you are doing the right thing.

As society continues to allow these morally corrupt parents to continue restricting access, we will only see more public protests. Whilst I don’t condone illegal behaviour, it’s an issue that could certainly use more publicity.

Do we need the Federal Government to change legislation in order to nanny people in how to be good parents? Or is it possible that as a society can we learn to put the children’s best interests before our own thoughts of petty personal gain?

The Port Arthur Historic Site: World Heritage Listing, Out of this Universe Pricing.

On 18 March 1999, the Hon. Robert Hill and the then Premier of Tasmania, Hon. Jim Bacon, jointly opened the brand new shop front to the Port Arthur Historic Site, The Visitor Information Centre. A brand new entrance complete with ticket office, café, and of course, the always important gift shop.

On the 3rd of June 2005 the Port Arthur Historic gained it’s Heritage listing recognised as “A poignant reminder of Australia’s convict past and colonial development.”

Now after visiting many historic sites and places of interest around the world, I understand that most usually attract a fee to help maintain the sites and cover ongoing running costs, however what needs to be considered is the value attached to such premium.

Don’t get me wrong, the Port Arthur site is a very important part of our country’s heritage; however it’s a bit rich to be charging exorbitant prices for us to learn about it.

Having been privileged enough to visit the site prior to the upgrades, I was left somewhat disappointed as to how over commercialised this once family friendly location has become.

There are three tiers of entry. A gold, silver and bronze pass, with the bronze allowing basic entry to the site so you can roam the grounds at your own leisure. There is no basic general admission ticket, so you have no choice but to purchase a bronze pass at the cost of $30 for an adult, $25 for concession, with a family pass relieving you of $75.

In a failed attempt to build value into the ticket price, the bronze pass includes a guided walking tour around the main convict site and a boat ride around the small Mason Cove. The short twenty minute boat ride around Mason Cove heads away from the main convict site, toward the “Isle of the Dead” island cemetery, and then back around to the pier.

The only advantage to the boat ride was that it gives you the opportunity to take a photo of the view the convicts would have had on arrival to Port Arthur. You do have the option to tour around the settlements cemetery on the Island, with the guide on the boat saying it’s a “must do” whilst at Port Arthur to see the real “characters” that made Port Arthur what it is. However this will add another $12 for an adult, $8 for a child, or $34 for a family to the overall price.

The guided tour included in the bronze ticket price seemed the biggest waste of time, as anyone with a level of Grade 5 literacy could read the many information boards surrounding the ruins.

The bang for your buck falls very short with the current pricing structure; hence a basic general admission ticket is needed. A ticket that gives you entry to the site and that allows you to roam around at your own pace. This would be a much better option for those people with families or those who simply want to experience what the Port Arthur Historic Site has to offer on a DIY basis. The guided tours could then be an add on for those wanting that bit extra.

A tip for those attending the Port Arthur Historic site is to take a packed lunch. You could easily be mistaken for being inside an Australian airport when you see the café’s pricing, with the cheapest meat pie setting you back a ridiculous $4.95. If you are attending as a family the lunch time purchases cost could easily blow out adding to the already high cost of the day, leaving you severely out of pocket.

The argument that the horrific massacre at the Port Arthur Historic Site in 1996, which left 35 people dead and physically wounded 19 others, called for increased upgrades, heightened security and therefore the extravagant costs to patrons can be extinguished immediately after visiting there yourself. Security is virtually non-existent and given the visitor capacity of the entrance building, the upgrades have increased the amount of devastation that could be caused if another similar attack occurred.

While it was a fairly enjoyable day out thanks to the good weather, it is just plain sad that the piggy banks of our next generation are being robbed in order to teach them about the past history of our great nation.

For further information about the Port Arthur Historic Site, including pricing, please visit:

Child Support Agency- Pay too little; We’ll garnish your tax return. Pay too much; Bad luck.

In Australia, the payment of Child Support is a person’s highest mandatory financial obligation, second only to the payment of Income Tax.

It seems however, with my own personal dealings and speaking to several other “customers” of Child Support Agency (CSA), that they are hardly a flagship Government Department second to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). So many complaints, so many issues, which all seem to be falling on deaf ears.

I personally agree with the Government recouping money from the parents to support their own children. Centrelink is more than stretched and burdened, and the last thing we need is even more pressure being put on our already suffering welfare system.

One thing we do need though (especially considering that it’s a mandatory requirement) is equality within the system. Recently I was introduced to one disparity, which in my opinion is a no-brainer on getting changed.

After verbal confirmation from three Customer Service Officers at CSA, I contacted them once again and they put me in touch with Janet Stodulka, Manager of the Family and Child Support Policy Branch at the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

As you may be aware, a parent’s child support assessment is usually based on their taxable income for the most recently completed financial year”, said Ms Stodulka. “However, where a parent’s income changes, specifically where a parent’s income reduces by 15 per cent or more than the income used in the assessment, certain flexibility is provided.  This flexibility allows customers to ask the Child Support Agency to base their child support assessment on an estimated adjusted taxable income.”

This allows for seasonal workers, casual workers, and basically anyone whose income may reduce by more than 15%, to lodge a change of income assessment with CSA. I personally think this is great. Everyone is feeling the pinch of the ever increasing cost of living and the last thing payees need is to have to wait until the next financial year before their Child Support payment amount is reduced.

Once you lodge your Tax Return with the ATO this is cross referenced with your income estimate. If you have under estimated your income and haven’t paid enough Child Support, CSA will impose arrears and if you are entitled to a tax refund they will intercept it and garnish any outstanding amount.

So, you can estimate your income for the current financial year rather than having it based on your last lodged Tax Return. If you under estimate your income Child Support CSA will impose arrears for the difference. Great news so far. So the question you are all asking is; what's the problem?

Well, and this is the stupid part, if it turns out you have OVER estimated your income and paid too much it’s, quoting a Customer Service Officer from the CSA call centre, simply “bad luck”.

Now I know it’s hard to recover the money from the receiving parent, as it will have already been given to them, yet what stops CSA from applying a “credit” to your Child Support account and spreading it out over the next 12 months?

It seems that CSA want both parents to notify them of any change of income within 14 days, however make the system unfairly biased at the same time.

“Where a parent over-estimates their income for the estimate period, the child support legislation does not provide for a retrospective adjustment of that estimate”, said Ms Stodulka, “Instead, parents are required to notify the Child Support Agency within 14 days of any change that could affect the accuracy of their estimate.  This rule applies to both receiving and paying parents. This approach ensures that parents remain responsible for the accuracy of their information”.

Any income the payee over estimates is going to be lost out of their pocket. Once again, with the cost of living increasing and many payees of Child Support needing to also fork out the expense of high court and legal costs to gain access to their own child, they too need the maximum amount of money in their pocket. The money can also be spent on their child when they have access to them. Parents which receive Child Support also need the maximum amount of money to support their children.

So, why is CSA encouraging payees to purposely under estimate their income on the chance that they might pay too much? After all, CSA is going to charge you for any unpaid amount anyway, so why would you try and correctly estimate it if any overpaid amounts are going to be lost? Ms Stodulka did however acknowledge the Department does listen to the feedback of their Customers.

While there is currently no plan to alter this approach, the Department values input from parents about their experiences of the Child Support Scheme.  The Department continues to monitor the effect of the legislation and comments received from yourself and others are taken into consideration as we regularly review the performance of the Child Support Scheme.”

I personally would prefer to have a system which is fair on both CSA and the customers which have to deal with them. I’m sure all single parents would love to have a fair system to work with, and I would imagine CSA would prefer that everyone works together, rather than having people abusing a biased system continually chasing them for outstanding money.

Remember, the squeaky wheel always get the grease, and this is one wheel that cannot be simply replaced. There will always be parents CSA have to deal with.

Reform to the current system is needed and in numbers we CAN bring change.

Online Bullies: No Brains, No Brawn

Bullying occurs in many forms, and the internet is just another avenue which accommodates for the onslaught of suffering.

What used to end in the school yard or workplace now extends after hours into the confines of victims houses and with mobile technology available “on the go”, the boundaries of bullying are seemingly endless.

The bullying which used to occur in public can now almost be “hidden” from others, with some victims too afraid to speak up about what they are experiencing.

This “out of sight, out of mind” mentality for the Australian public is having a drastic affect with many victims turning to self harm or even suicide.

A social change in habit would cut down the need for stronger legislation. While many online ‘warriors’ who adopt the keyboard as their cowardly weapon of choice think they are immune to any form of consequence for their actions, a spokesperson for SA Police explains how online law enforcement works in South Australia.

“There is no actual offence of 'Cyber Bullying'. SA Police have to look at current legislation to see if the behaviour fits into these. We can utilise stalking legislation or any number of other offences depending on the nature of the bullying. They would need to bring chat logs, e-mails or any other documentary evidence. They should perhaps, in the first instance, put their mouse on the time at the bottom of their pc and reveal the day and date and then print screen and save it to print out or e-mail to an investigator.”

Like a lot of legislation, once you cross state borders, it seems like you are entering a totally different country.

Doctor Melissa de Zwart, Associate Professor at the Adelaide Law School of the University of Adelaide, explains that the Commonwealth Government has been taking an interest in cyber bullying for a few years now, however feels that social change is just as crucial to changing this trend.

“These issues are generally dealt with under the criminal law of each state or territory. Of course, this will depend upon the seriousness of the activity. There is also some scope for it to be dealt with under Commonwealth criminal laws which deal with use of the internet for criminal purposes. This is the Cybercrime legislation, and the Commonwealth has the power to deal with this as it occurs via the telecommunications network.”

“I think that education and social training are more important. I don't think teens are deterred by criminal laws at all; they don't stop to think if what they are doing is 'wrong'. Why do kids do this at all? School yard bullying is rampant and more could be done about that too.”

One person that knows school yard bullying all too well is Viola*, now 29, who suffered bullying at school and in her early twenties incurred the hateful wrath of the online world.

“I am forever grateful Facebook did not exist when I was at high school. I was bullied in real life all the way through high school and yes I did attempt suicide at age 16 as a result. I surely would have succeeded if the internet had been bigger back then. This was in the late '90s. I think the internet makes it far easier to harass and bully, sad really, when the internet is such a great tool.”

“I have had issues with depression and social anxiety disorder for much of my adult life. As a teenager I was not aware of what I was suffering from and it was made worse by the bullying. The internet just made it a lot easier. I know to rise above it. It is just me being me. I still struggle with my depression and while the social anxiety is a lot less of an issue than it was, it is still there. Bullying just amplifies it.”

Today, suicide and bullying online are unfortunately two things that go hand in hand. It is a very sad and disturbing fact that we have people, usually young teens, our nations future, killing themselves as a result of the selfish actions of others.

Jess*, 14, who has grown up in the technology age, explains self harm is a factor resulting from online bullying and she believes 40-50% of people in her year level at school get bullied online. This is a disturbingly high figure.

“I was bullied online, over Facebook and text messages, from the age of 12. Being bullied online had a big effect on me. I started self harming myself at the age 12. I now know it was a big mistake. It also made me have low self esteem and think very poorly of myself. It led to me having very big trust issues not just with friends, but also in relationships.”

“I told my parents after about 6 months of it happening and she (mum) just said ‘ignore them, you are better than them’, but it was hard. It kept going and I just kept it to my self. They still make smart remarks and call me names and stuff at school sometimes. At one point one of the girls said ‘Go die. No one wants you here’. That hurt a lot.”

“The advice I would give to other teens about being bullied online is that they should really talk to someone about it. They should try and shut off contact; blocking on Facebook, deleting numbers, etc. Most of all don’t listen to what they say because they are only bullying you because you are better than them.”

Dr Melissa Zwart says that parents should start discussing online safety with their children as soon as their child shows any interest in using a computer, supervision being of key importance.

“There are 'safe' online sites designed just for kids, even littlies, like ABC 4 Kids, but parents should still supervise such use. It is easy to 'click' off the page, and not rely upon filters etc to do the work for them. Engage with what your children are doing online and talk to them about using the internet. Some games want you to spend money, enter details etc, and parents should monitor for this sort of thing. The internet is a communication, entertainment and education resource, it is not a baby sitter”.

Apparently our brain sends signals to our fingers which allow us to type. However after reading some of the vitriol on the internet, I’m quite surprised some people actually have a brain there to begin with.

Moral of the story- Engage your brain before engaging your fingers.

For more information please visit:

* - Names changed