Around one fifth of young people believe that personal safety and bullying or emotional abuse are an issue of personal concern, according to a recent Mission Australia Youth Survey report.
It was not until Jye Walker attended the Rock and Water program — a self-awareness program aimed at young people — that he realised that he was a bully himself.
Jye also realised the serious impact his actions were having on his peers.
“I experienced the program as an apprentice and once I’d gone through the training it actually opened my eyes to the fact that I had been a bully my whole life and I didn’t even know that I was a bully,” Jye said.
“How many other kids are out there in my position think they’re being heaps funny or think that they’re a cool kid or think that they are popular when really they’re just a bully?”
After experiencing the training, Jye decided he wanted to do something about it.
He became an Aboriginal health worker and now delivers the 10-week Rock and Water Program across the Great Southern region of Western Australia.
The Rock and Water program focuses on teaching students about bullying, positive life goals, confidence and social skills to help them deal with problems they experience growing up.
“There’s never going to be a world without bullies,” Jye said.
“As an adult, bullies just change their tactics.
“Now they’re not rude in your face — maybe they’re just condescending bullies — they just change their clothes.
“We teach [students] how to deal with bullies in a positive way — maybe they can help that bully … maybe he just needs a friend or someone to talk to.”
Director of Rock and Water, Brian Hayes, said Rock and Water was vital for young people to help teach skills they often did not get in classrooms.
“We recognise that more important than results in NAPLAN or the HSC… is the holistic health of our children,” Mr Hayes said.
“If they’re not socially, emotionally competent and resilient then you wouldn’t say they’re an autonomous learner or young person and make their way in the world.
Earlier this year, Jye attended the Trailblazer’s Lab at the Heywire Summit.
During a five-day intensive experience, he was able to network, share his story and work on the next step.
“There is no better word for it except inspirational,” Jye said.
“It reignited my flame and I have now have bigger and better dreams because of it.”
Through games and role playing, the Rock and Water program can be tailored to suit the needs of a particular school or group of students.
“Everything’s a metaphor, so if we’ve got a class where they send kids that are bullies, we’ll focus on games that attack that issue,” Jye said.
For Jye, the most rewarding part of the program is watching the students mature and change over the 10 weeks.
“I love Rock and Water … It’s so much fun,” he said.
“I literally just go play games with kids and you can see the happiness in their face.
“You can sort of steal their energy because you can never be slack when you’ve got all these kids running around with so much energy.
“It’s hard not to be sucked into it all that.”
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