TAKING A STAND: Southern Downs councillors call for legislative change to tackle cyberbullying.
TAKING A STAND: Southern Downs councillors call for legislative change to tackle cyberbullying. KERRI MOORE

Councillors call for law change to stamp out bullying

SOUTHERN Downs councillors are called for the State and Federal Governments to amend legislation to include cyberbullying as a criminal offence.

Mayor Tracy Dobie addressed the councillors at the Southern Downs Regional Council's January general meeting on Wednesday, highlighting the issue of cyber-bullying within the community and encouraging councillors to espouse change.

Cr Dobie is taking a series of actions over the coming weeks in the lead up to National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on March 16, to help raise public awareness about cyber-bullying.

"While the majority of people who use social media do not contribute to this sort of behaviour, there are a small number who do, and I believe they are having a negative effect on our community,” Cr Dobie said.

"These people believe they can write whatever they want about other people. They do this repeatedly and their intention is to cause distress to the person they are targeting.

"It not only has a profoundly negative impact on individuals but it is to the detriment of our community.

"We all have to take a stand about the way in which our society conducts itself.”

Deputy Mayor Jo McNally addressed her fellow councillors calling for amendment bills to be introduced to Federal and State Parliament to change legislation to include cyber-bullying as a criminal offence, and applauded Cr Dobie for raising awareness of the issue.

Councillor McNally will write to both the Federal and State Attorney Generals and federal and state members on behalf of Southern Downs Regional Council.

"Madam Mayor, I applaud you and the strategy you have implemented regarding bullying, you yourself have been a target of cyber-bullying, like myself and others here in this room...and this is unacceptable behaviour,” Cr McNally said.

"Cyber-bullying is not a criminal offence in any state or commonwealth legislation.

"Both state and federal legislation demonstrates the need to widen the scope of stalking provisions to combat the increase in cyber-bullying within our community.”

The councillors unanimously supported Cr McNally's motion, which was seconded by the councillor for Rural, Environmental, Sustainability and Waste Management Cameron Gow.

The councillor for Water and Waste Water, Vic Pennisi said calling upon State and Federal Government was the most effective way to tackle cyber-bullying.

"In my view going to the higher level is the right way to go about it, it is where we as a local government can have the most amount of impact to introduce a form of regulation,” Cr Pennisi said.

Councillor for Regional Promotion, Tourism and the Arts, Rod Kelly shared some of his own personal experiences and said it was time to take a stand after he and his family had been subjected to cyber-bullying for the past two years.

Cr Kelly congratulated the Deputy Mayor on her motion and Cr Dobie for standing up against cyberbullies.

"Change is needed and together, as a community, it is time to take a stand. All of the Councillors support the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor in their efforts to take action against cyber-bullies.” Cr Kelly said.


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