With the internet giving people unlimited access to each other, the fight to stop bullying has become more challenging. We meet two women tackling the problem in Australia
By
Alexandra Fisher

14 Aug 2018 - 9:23 AM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2019 - 8:53 AM

We live with the joys of the internet every day, information is at our fingertips, the bounty of food available to be delivered to your home, or chatting to a beloved friend halfway across the world on your laptop.

But the internet has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. Technology has given us the space to be on our worst behaviour.

While bullies in schoolyards and workplaces have faces, these ‘keyboard warriors’ or ‘cyber trolls’ often hide behind their computers and mobile phones, operating with impunity. What’s more, anyone can fall prey. Among young Australians alone, 19 percent reported having mean things said about them and being called names online.
So pervasive is cyber bullying that Instagram introduced a bullying filter.

So how do we tackle the problem of cyber bullying?

In episode 13 of The Few Who Do, Jan Fran and Marc Fennell unpack the problem with two women fighting for change. Project Rockit co-founder Rosie Thomas is focused on changing behavior early on, by teaching kids appropriate ways to behave online and off.  While law reform campaigner Noelle Martin was driven to speak out and push for change to legislation after she realised she was the victim of image based abuse.

Noelle was eighteen when she decided to reverse image search herself on Google. She discovered that innocent selfies she’d taken- one from when she was seventeen- had been stolen, manipulated and posted onto pornographic sites. Her face was photo shopped onto bodies of naked adult actresses. The photos were accompanied by threads of sexualised and abusive commentary, as well as information about her identity, where she lived, where she studied.

Noelle’s experience is known as imaged based abuse or revenge porn and it’s not rare. In an RMIT University survey approximately one in five respondents  reported their image being misused, while one in ten people said they had taken, shared or threatened to spread nude pics without permission.

Noelle doesn’t know who stole her images for porn at eighteen she hadn’t been in a serious relationship; she hadn’t had a falling out with friends. “I don't know what the motivations are for someone to do this to me,” Noelle tells The Few Who Do. “I was feeling very paranoid as well because I don't know who would have been responsible for something like that,” she says.

In the podcast, Noelle shares how she was advised to contact the webmasters who host the porn sites to have the images removed. “I had one webmaster who responded that he would only delete the website if I sent them nude photos of myself within 24 hours,” she says.

With the situation out of her control, Noelle turned to one thing within her control: her voice. In episode 13, she details how she spoke out in order to reclaim her image and raise awareness about a form of abuse she coined “morphed porn”. Hear how her campaign drew international attention and helped enact change.  

The desire for change was a motivator for sisters Rosie and Lucy Thomas, who co-founded Project Rockit, a school program for young people. Rosie was only a year out of high school herself and could remember the bad advice she’d been given to deal with bullies, to “walk away.” The idea came to the sisters while on a summer holiday. “We started talking about all the people that we went to school with who were so horribly mistreated,” Rosie tells The Few Who Do. “There were times when I was bullied at school and if I'm honest there were lots of times that I did the bullying too.” 

But Rosie says what’s changed is that it’s now more difficult for victims to escape bullying, or mistreatment. “Everyone has a device in their pocket 24/7 and so we have unprecedented access to each other,” says Rosie.

In the Few Who Do, Rosie details how Project Rockit combatting the problem. For more than a decade, the organization has been equipping school students to speak out against bullying, hate and prejudice, instead of being bystanders- or bullies. Students learn communication, ethics, harm, how to deal with bullying, and what to do if they witness it.

“We'll get a bunch of students up the front, get them doing role plays, or drama. But afterwards we link that random activity to a really key lesson and then we open up for discussion,” Rosie says. 

To hear more, listen to episode 13 of The Few Who Do, co-hosted by Marc Fennell and Jan Fran.

 

LISTEN TO EPISODE 13

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Introducing 'The Few Who Do'

Two hosts, one problem, two possibilities...

Presented by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell 'The Few Who Do' tackles the big questions in society and culture today.

Whose responsibility is it to make our streets safe for women? How will we support a growing population with dwindling food resources?

We’ll hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.

The Few Who Do is an SBS podcast with CGU Insurance.

Upcoming episodes of The Few Who Do will examine:

 

Homelessness- The number of Australians who are Homeless increased by 14% to 116,427 between the last census in 2011 and the latest in 2016. While there are many factors that cause homelessness, one of the problems that arise are a lack of work opportunities and a loss of confidence.

 

Two Hosts, One Problem, Two Possibilities


 

This podcast is brought to you by CGU Insurance, who have been proudly backing the ambitions of Aussie Small Businesses for over 165 years. Visit CGU.com.au to find out how CGU can back you.