Dolly Everett's story told in Mount Isa

Dolly Everett's story told in Mount Isa


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SCHOOL OF THE AIR: School for the Air principal Janeen Fricke, Kate Everett and deputy principal Nicole Barlow at the seminar on home tutoring. Photo: Melissa North

SCHOOL OF THE AIR: School for the Air principal Janeen Fricke, Kate Everett and deputy principal Nicole Barlow at the seminar on home tutoring. Photo: Melissa North

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Kate Everett attended the Mount Isa School of the Air home tutor seminar and told their family story.

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Last year Kate and Tick Everett's world was turned upside down after the tragic death of their daughter Amy Everett, who took her own life.

Dolly, as she was known, was just 14.

She was well-known at the tender age of eight as the face for Australia's famous Akubra hats in a Christmas campaign.

Dolly died on January 3, 2018 because of relentless bullying from her peers.

Sixteen months on, the family have turned their grief into advocacy work after starting a national conversation on bullying and cyberbullying with 'Do It For Dolly' day to change the culture in boarding schools.

On Wednesday May 15, Dolly's mum attended the Mount Isa School of the Air home tutor seminar to raise awareness of the serious harm caused by bullying.

Dolly was a student at the Mount Isa School of the Air from 2009-2012 but it was later that she suffered bullying.

Ms Everett said cyberbullying is part of everyone's lives and affects their private lives as well as schools, online and social networks, sporting clubs and workplaces.

"The devastation bullying brings is the impact of suicide which effects the whole community including the schooling community."

Ms Everett said the family uprooted from Central Queensland to Brunette Downs to run a stock camp when Dolly was nearly four.

DOLLY'S DREAM: Mum, Kate Everett addressed a large crowd at the Overlander Hotel during the Mount isa School of the Air home tutor seminar. Photo: Melissa North

DOLLY'S DREAM: Mum, Kate Everett addressed a large crowd at the Overlander Hotel during the Mount isa School of the Air home tutor seminar. Photo: Melissa North

"We have lived on some of Australia's most remote cattle stations and taught our children via distance education," she said.

"For eight months we lived more than 80km from the homestead with little more than a horse truck, a camp kitchen and swags to sleep in."

Ms Everett's two daughters Meg and Dolly would help out during the day.

"Meg is an early riser and would be ready for the day, but Dolly on the other hand took a long time to do anything. She would peer over her swag cover watching the morning's events unfold around her," she said.

"She'd sing to the dogs, collect pet rocks, watch birds build a nest or simply draw. She'd get lost in story books and had the knack of charming some poor ringer into reading 'just one more page'."

Kate described her daughter as having "beautiful sparkling eyes and a mop of crazy hair that never seemed to stay tied up, a cheeky grin and an infectious laugh with a fabulous sense of humour".

"She'd be side tracked by the raw beauty around her, at times distracted by wild flowers or something. Many rough and weary station hands were won over by our charming wild-haired girl," she said.

Ms Everett said for many workers "a Dolly moment" became the highlight of their day.

"She saw the beauty in everyone and everything, she supported the underdog and she was always kind," she said.

Over time, Ms Everett said, Dolly became a great ringer and all rounder and helped new inexperienced workers who were far away from their familiar comfort zones break down the barriers of home sickness.

Then Dolly went to boarding school.

"We're a close-knit family so boarding school was a tough thing to deal with. The girls struggled settling in so we wrote it off as home sickness," Ms Everett said.

"But it was more than that. Bullying has no place in schools, online, sporting fields and workplaces."

Sadly, what Dolly's parents thought was just "school yard banter" turned out to be more.

"It's not acceptable for a boy to degrade you or girls with their jealousy and the help of social media make life a living hell for those they feel threatened by or need to justify their own existence by belittling someone else."

Ms Everett said text messages where sent around by so-called friends shaming Dolly and calling her despicable names.

"The request for inappropriate pictures, most likely with the notion that this would help her fit in, only used to shame her and shared with others."

"The everyday turned into physical threats, bitchiness escalated and Dolly was told the world would be better without her.

"Finally, our beautiful young girl didn't see herself through our eyes, she didn't see her gifts. She didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, all she saw was hatred and negativity," she said.

Afterwards the Everett's resolved to do everything they could to bring change and so Dolly's Dream was born.

The Dolly's Dream campaign aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of bullying and has a special focus on remote and regional Australia.

It acts as a voice working to address bullying and cyberbullying, to deliver advice in schools and prevent bullying from happening.

"Kids have access to devices and sometimes don't even realise what they are doing is considered bullying, so the more we can educate and promote these important messages the more awareness will come," Ms Everett said.

"Especially important is for parents, governesses and teachers to feel informed about the choices and avenues of support available."

"If you think you're child is being bullied, speak up.

"One in four students are bullied and one in five are cyberbullied."

Ms Everett said the Dolly's Dream Foundation is hoping to release an app for parents in the near future.

"The digital licence already exists from the Alannah and Madeline Foundation however the parenting licence is modelled off that," she said.

"It walks parents through scenarios of bullying, for instance, if you're child receives an inappropriate picture, what do you do?

"I believe it's not just a school responsibility, it's the parents as well and this gives parents who are at home in the bush tools to sit down and educate their children with scenarios related to all types of bullying."

Lifeline Australia Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention 13 11 14

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