Almost a week after a gofundme page raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to send Quaden Bayles and his mother Yarraka to Disneyland, the family say they will decline the trip as they want the funds to go to charities that need it.
American comedian Brad Williams set up the page on February 21, with the headline 'Let's send a wonderful kid to Disneyland'. Since it's creation more than twenty thousand global donors have raised over 700,000 Australian dollars.
The gesture came after his mother live streamed a video to Facebook on February 19 that showed the aftermath of a bullying incident involving Quaden at Carina State School in Brisbane.
Quaden was born with Achondroplasia, the most common form of Dwarfism and, in addition to constant health complications, has had to deal with incidents such as this since he was three.
Speaking exclusively to NITV News, Quaden's Aunty Mundanara Bayles says while it's a touching example of goodwill, the family will skip the all-expenses paid trip as they want to focus on the bigger issues at play.
"What kid wouldn't want to go to Disneyland, especially if you have lived Quaden's life. To escape to anywhere that is fun that doesn't remind him of his day to day challenges," she said.
"But my sister said 'you know what, let's get back to the real issue'. This little fella has been bullied. How many suicides, black or white, in our society have happened due to bullying."
"We want the money to go to community organisations that really need it. They know what the money should be spent on, So as much as we want to go to Disneyland, I think our community would far off benefit from that."
The family has earmarked Dwarfism Awareness Australia, and Balunu Healing Foundation as two organisations they would like to see benefit from the funding.
"We need to come together and work out how to make sure young people like Quaden don't have to deal with what they have been dealing with," Ms Bayles said.
"We've had seven kids at the Murri School in Brisbane, where I am on the board, take their lives in the last ten years."
According to the GoFundMe website, the terms say that “all donated funds will be used solely for the purpose you have stated on and in connection with your campaign, and under no circumstances may you use the funds for any other purpose.”
Brad Williams' description on the page states that “After all the flights, hotel, tickets and food is paid for, any excess money will be donated to anti-bullying/anti-abuse charities.”
The family are currently in discussions with Mr Williams.
Pushing forward on 'Quaden's Law'
Quaden's mother Yarraka says she has been working on a comprehensive package, focused on building emotional resilience and working with those who demonstrate traits and patterns of bullying.
Tentatively titled 'Quaden's Law', Ms Bayles wants it to be mandated under state and national school curriculum.
Yarraka Bayles attended a meeting on Monday alongside representatives from Carina State School and the Queensland Government. She told NITV News there were positive signs.
“We discussed a care plan for Quaden if/when he chooses to return to school, or when we feel the time is right. We are working with the school to introduce an educational tools for schools package around disability awareness, diversity and inclusion," she said.
“It went okay ... They were all very supportive in helping to move forward.”
NITV News has reached out to both Carina State School and the Queensland Education Minister for comment.
Quaden in 'high spirits' despite attention
Quaden's mother said that despite the heightened media attention, behind closed doors the family are still going out their lives as usual.
“It’s a bit overwhelming but we are doing good considering. It’s pretty full on but we are strong enough to get through especially with all the mobs support and unconditional love," she told NITV News.
“Quaden is ok. He is spinning out a bit, we just have to protect our boy as best we can. We’ve got a good team around us now.”
Aunty Mundanara says the 9-year-old is in "high spirits" and has been having a great time with his cousins playing basketball and ping pong.
"It's a bit of a shame because it's causing us to stay home a lot more but my kids are loving it, they get to see him more," she said.
"He's just an amazing kid that's larger than life."
Ms Bayles also wished to thank everyone across the world who have come out to defend their family.
"We come from a really strong family and have been taught really well, so we want to make sure people keep seeing the positives, and the strengths of our culture."
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, visit lifeline.org.au or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here. Resources for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be found at Headspace: Yarn Safe.