Mother’s new plea after heartbreaking bullying video
Queensland mother Yarraka Bayles has promised to create a "Quaden's Law" so all students feel safe at schools, after her 9-year-old son was the victim of bullying which put his "life on the line."
The mother of 9-year-old Indigenous schoolboy Quaden Bayles today today made the impassioned promise the legislation to end bullying, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
Quaden has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism and a range of related health conditions, and earlier this year his mother posted a heartbreaking video, which went viral, of the youngster saying he wanted to commit suicide after being bullied.
Ms Bayles said it took the viral video for the Quaden to get the support needed despite her repeated attempts to seek a resolution for the bullying from the school.
In prerecorded evidence, when asked what message he would like to give to children who didn't understand his disability, Quaden said: "just don't be rude to kids who have disabilities and just be kind and be nice."
While giving evidence Ms Bayles said that since the viral video the bullying had ended but revealed some of the harrowing experiences her 9-year-old had faced.
"So we talked about Quaden's law and he reminds me every day, almost every day, so I know that's something that I have to do, is to be able to come up with some sort of legislation that hopefully improves statistics and lessens the bullying statistics in schools," Ms Bayles said.
Speaking outside the royal commission Ms Bayles said Quaden's law would potentially be a nationwide framework, education campaign and a safety net so all students could receive a good education in a safe and caring environment.
"We don't want the focus to be on anti-bullying, Quaden's law will not just be another anti-bullying campaign, we're coming from a solutions-based approach from our lived experience," she said.
"It's going to be a safety net where students are able to report bullying anonymously if they wish if students or staff members witness an episode or concerns and they are able to report that and know that something will be done about it, it's not just falling on deaf ears".
She said the family was still a target of online abuse with the viral video bringng a "new wave of bullying".
"It's a whole different ball game when it's online and you can't prevent or protect your child or protect your family because it's everywhere unfortunately," she said.
It came as the royal commission today launched its week-long hearing on barriers to safe and inclusive school education.
The royal commission also heard that in the past year, 15 per cent of students with a disability enrolled in Queensland state schools were suspended at least once compared with 6 per cent of students without a disability.
And of all students who were suspended in a Queensland state school, 38 per cent of those students had a disability, despite only making up 18 per cent of the student population.
Furthermore, once repeat suspensions were accounted for, students with disability made up 46 per cent of all suspensions, the royal commission heard.
In the opening address Senior Counsel Assisting, Dr Kerri Mellifont QC, said the Queensland state education system was chosen for examination because it had already developed and introduced a policy specifically focused on inclusive education.
"Even with that policy, the suspension rate is disproportionate for students with disability," she said.
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Originally published as Mother's new plea after heartbreaking bullying video