Finalists in Interrelate’s 2019 Say No To Bullying Poster Competition were honoured during a ceremony at Government House, with an 11-year-old student from Lennox Head Public School named the winner for her artwork depicting this year’s theme Be Kind, Lend a Hand.
Now in its sixth year, the 2019 competition featured 41 primary school finalists from across Australia, which were chosen from 4000 entrants.
The awards ceremony was attended by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of New South Wales, who announced Isabella Sinanovski as this year’s winner.
“Bullying and cyberbullying is a national concern. It can affect confidence, create social anxiety and low self-esteem, and can roll into adulthood. Having a whole of community approach to developing respectful and supportive relationships; and being an upstander rather than a bystander is the best way to help our children develop for the future. Our poster competition helps children express themselves through art, which can get them to start talking and open the door for further conversations,” said Patricia Occelli, CEO of Interrelate.
“We work closely with many schools through our Bullying Awareness Program and the poster competition helps them start the conversation around difficult subjects like this at an early age. By opening up the discussion sooner rather than later in a way that is supportive rather than judgemental, and involving the whole community, including parents, children have a much better chance of understanding each other’s differences rather than highlighting them,” Ms Occelli added.
Isabella made the trip to Sydney especially for the event and was excited to be named the overall winner. “It was amazing to walk in and see all the other posters. I never expected that I could be picked as first place,” she said.
Isabella, who has experienced bullying herself, had a very positive message. “We’re all unique and we should celebrate our differences to learn from each other, and not be nasty if someone is different,” she said. “If you’re being bullied, there will always be someone there to help you, whether it’s your parents, your teachers or even new friends you didn’t know would support you.”
NSW Education Minister, the Hon Sarah Mitchell, announced at the ceremony that the NSW Government will be supporting two mental health experts at every public high school to help students struggling with stress and bullying in an $88 million package, which will fund 350 student support officers and up to 100 additional full-time counsellors or qualified psychologists.