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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 February 2015) . . Page.. 422 ..

community. It is now only one month till the national day of action against bullying, and I would like to encourage Canberra schools, workplaces, community organisations and leaders in our community to get involved and speak out against bullying behaviour.

We talk a lot with young people in our community about bullying. My kids know that it is not nice to tease; they know that when people are having a rough time, they need understanding; and they know that when they see bullying it is important to speak up. Kids are regularly reminded about the way their words make others feel. I think sometimes it is adults who need a reminder about the impact their words and actions can have.

For those in the chamber who may have forgotten, bullying is repeated verbally, physically, socially or psychologically aggressive behaviour by a person or group directed in a way that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear. In our workplaces, bullying sometimes comes out as behaviour that is unprofessional or unnecessary. It is often the case that workplace bullies inflict distress on another person under the guise of “doing their job”. It is always unacceptable.

Every day, we as parliamentarians should think about the example we are giving. We should think, when we have to do something hard, whether there is a way we could act that would cause less distress. We should hold ourselves to the highest standards. It is my hope that by engaging with young people we can grow into a community that does not need to remind its adults that bullying does not have a place in our inclusive community.

Mental health—suicide prevention

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.32): I welcome the opportunity to remind members of an important initiative in the area of mental health that I believe can make a significant difference in suicide prevention in our community. Following on from what Ms Berry has just been talking about, I would like to remind people that suicide is far too prevalent in our community. Indeed, one suicide is a tragedy too many.

Recently in the Canberra Times we read of a family devastated by the suicide of their family member. It was reported that the man had not shared his trauma, his hurt and his overwhelming mental pain with others.

Too often we are not aware of what those we work with or spend time with are going through. We are unaware of the stress they may be experiencing or their feelings of loneliness or abandonment by those who could support them if they knew. To simply say, “Are you okay?”—three little words—can do so much to let someone know someone is there for them. It gives permission for someone to safely disclose and perhaps seek help.

As members in this place, we have a responsibility to read the signals and respond appropriately, and to make sure our staff are also equipped to do so. We need to be able to hear the pain of others, to make sure that we can ask, “Are you okay?” and to be able to hear what the person may tell us.

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