Q: Please tell us a little about yourself, your occupation, and what a day at work looks like for you?
A: My name is Kellie Friend, and I am a mother of two beautiful (and sometimes smelly) teenage boys and the wife of a pretty fabulous husband. I am the CEO of Toora Women, a Canberra organisation that supports women experiencing or at risk of homelessness, domestic and family violence, corrections transition and/or drug and alcohol dependency.

Q: Before working in your field, what preconceived ideas did you have surrounding bullying?
A: I have worked in leadership and HR roles for much of my career in the areas of conduct, performance, and behaviours. In terms of preconceived ideas, my mind goes to someone who is aggressive, unprofessional, and confrontational; or as a kid it was being beaten up or intimidated for your lunch money or because you were different.

Q: How have your thoughts changed?
A: While the above can be true, bullying is intrusive and can also be covert and intentionally hidden. It also isn't contained to the school yard and can be prevalent in the workplace.

Q: In your opinion, what connects schoolyard bullying to adulthood? What are the consequences to that connection?
A: This can translate in many ways, but for a young person who isn't held accountable to bullying, this can result in continued incivility. Equally for a young person who is supported to understand the impact of their treatment of others, they can develop a strong sense of self and empathy. A young person who experiences bullying can carry this with them for a long time - often lifelong - and this can affect their confidence and self-esteem, as well as the foundation of their relationships. It can be a traumatic and damaging experience that has lasting impact.

Q: What would you say to your younger self if she was being bullied?
A: Much like what I say to my sons… I often ask them to consider the person displaying the behaviour and try to understand why they might be behaving that way. Thinking about the person helps you empathise with what might be going on for them - meaning it's less about me and far more about them. My kids would be horrified and roll their eyes at me, but I would say (or attempt to sing): “Shake it off, shake it off...”


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