The Make Bullying History Foundation, which partnered up with the Sharks in 2016 in an effort to get to more schools and to emphasise and communicate important anti-bullying-messages to primary and secondary students, continues to make a significant mark across the community.
The Sharks Have Heart game day community partner at the game against the Tigers on Sunday, the Make Bullying History Foundation and the Sharks initiative has so far visited 49 schools and over 11,000 students since the initial presentation at the Woolooware High School over three years ago.
Brett Murray, Founder and CEO of The Make Bullying History Foundation, says while his seminars are branded to indicate the partnership with the Sharks, it's all about the messages he communicates, as well as the Sharks efforts to engage and assist the local community.
"Each school visited gets asked if they support the Sharks, kids put their hands up, some don't put their hands up, but the important message given to students is that even though they don't all support the Sharks, the Sharks support them," Murray said.
"We have seen a reduction in bullying incidences, with the feedback from students that they now have the tools to eradicate bullying both within their schools and the broader community. And it's because of the Sharks Make Bullying History Initiative."
A considerable problem in the community, not just amongst school-aged children but also in the wider population, Murray saw a need to address the bullying issue, hence his commitment to the cause through his foundation.
In 2015 statistics indicated that in excess of 400 young Australians aged 5-24 commit suicide each year. Research also states that for every teenage suicide, there are up to 200 attempts.
Similar statistics also show that 1 in 4 students within Australia are bullied and 1 in 7 students admit to being a bullying perpetrator. Using this statistic, the Sharks Make Bullying History initiative would have reached up to 1,500 bullies, which is extremely valuable helping to eradicate bullying and in the process reducing the incidence of suicide and attempted suicides.
The Make Bullying History Initiative has become a staple in most Sutherland Shire schools, with the program offering them the ability to have Murray return each year for free.
Now in its third year of operation, he has been returning to schools visited previously to follow up and reinforce the message.
Sharks star Josh Dugan, himself a victim of cyber-bullying, recently attended a presentation at Menai Primary School and seeing the engagement of the students and hearing Murray's messages, was happy to jump on board as an ambassador of the program.
The Sharks relationship with local Shire school teachers through the Sharks Teacher Ambassador Program, meant valuable feedback was received, gaining an insight into the need for an anti-bullying resource in schools, resulting in the program being formed.
Additional responses from a number of schools following Murray's visit, indicated the Sharks Make Bullying History Initiative was on the right track.
From parents at a local Shire primary school; "Amazingly positive and informative."
"Fantastic- should be a national program."
"Absolutely amazing, invaluable information session, well presented."
''It was excellent, a great balance of stats and stories."
While further feedback came from teachers, with Engadine Public School offering the following testimonials.
"Excellent – the students were so engaged and responded in a very positive manner."
"Absolutely awesome – the students have never been so engaged for that length of time."
"Informative and evidence-based information."
"Fabulous, informative, refreshing to see someone passionate about what they do and the message being presented."
"Energetic, passionate presentation with genuine, real-life experiences that made it easy for students to identify with."
For schools wanting information as to how they can have Murray present the Sharks Make Bullying Initiative, contact Sharks Have Heart by emailing [email protected] or by calling 02 9527 8229.
As the game day community partner on Sunday, The Make Bullying History Foundation hopes to continue to raise awareness and to spread the word and this issue and the combined efforts of Murray, and the Sharks, to eradicate bullying in the Sutherland Shire and beyond.