Q: Please tell us a little about yourself, your occupation, and what a day at work looks like for you?
A: My name is Brintyn Smith. I am a Family Law Barrister based in Warkworth (North of Auckland), New Zealand. I specialise in Family Law. I am on the Lawyer for Child list (a role that is like the Australian role of ‘Independent Children’s Lawyer’). My work in this role consists of advocacy/litigation; working with and seeing children; working with clients; engaging with various professionals and government agencies; and, of course, mediation and negotiation. I usually undertake a lot of drafting, too. I employ another lawyer who works with me, so my role also includes supervision. I am also an Instructor at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies.

Q: Before working in your field, what preconceived ideas did you have surrounding bullying?
A: I was never blind to bullying. For many years at school, I was bullied. I was the odd one out, and different. Bullying in school felt relentless, and daily – perhaps pervasive. I was no exception. I stood up for those who were bullied, and I continue to do so today, through my job.

Q: How have your thoughts changed?
A: They have not changed in a significant away, other than to further develop and understand the impacts of passive types of bullying (exclusion, the ways people look, tone, etc). I have also grown increasingly concerned about its impact and the feeling that it is almost an occupational hazard in various industries. I push back on that as I refuse to accept that it is okay or part of the rough and tumble of litigation. It is not - respect and kindness go a long way in all settings and we all must model it. I have been witness to and the subject of bullying in my area of work. Like I did as a child, I stood up for what is right, even when I am the only one in the room who was willing.

Q: In your opinion, what connects schoolyard bullying to adulthood? What are the consequences to that connection?
A: It is inextricably linked. Bullies bully, and the bullies can go on to bully, too. Trauma impacts people for much longer than people could. The evidence seems to be clear on that. It is like oxalis, an obnoxious weed, and we must do all we can to eradicate it. My earlier comments about its pervasiveness remain true in that regard. New Zealand Schools continue to have significant bullying issues, and so too do workplaces. Law, my area, is no exception. The consequence for the bullied is reduced hauora/health overall – the obvious impact being someone’s mental health. Their ability to be unique is constrained and anxiety ensues. Without help and support, it can be hard for people to cope.

Q: What would you say to your younger self if he was being bullied?
A: Continue to stand up for yourself and to ask for help. When people do not listen, keep knocking at the doors of help. No person is greater than another, and your contribution will be and is meaningful. You are a good person, and your difference is what will drive you and be your beacon in life. What they are doing to you will not result in you failing. You can and will get through this, but get help and do not be too proud to ask.


LIFELINE: 13 44 14

BEYOND BLUE: 1300 224 636

HEADSPACE: 1800 650 890

KIDS HELPLINE: 1800 55 1800