Tuesday, September 14, 2010

DON'T HURT: Dad calls for 'Allem's Law' to stop cyber bullies in Australia

A FATHER in Australia whose son committed suicide after being sent threatening messages wants new laws targeting cyber bullies to be named in his child’s honour.

The Victorian Government has moved to strengthen laws governing harassment and stalking to include cyber stalking.

A court found in April that Shane Phillip Gerada, 21, sent five threatening text messages to Allem Halkic over two days in February 2009.

Allem took his life hours after the last text message.

Hiis dad, Ali Halkic, wants the law changes to be known as “Allem’s Law”.

“It would be a way of honouring him,” Mr Halkic told the Hobsons Bay Leader.

Mr Halkic criticised Premier John Brumby on 3AW radio today, shortly before the State Government announced the roll-out of a new eSmart initiative that will allow schools to implement an anti-cyber-bullying program.

Mr Halkic accused the Premier of “jumping on the bandwagon” in cyber-bullying prevention in an election year.

“After a year and a half when it’s election time you’ve come on board now,” Mr Halkic said.

The Altona Meadows father said the Premier’s office had ignored his emails.

“When we started campaigning for a number of things, we went out to ask the local government for help … your department didn’t even have the courtesy to respond to us,” Mr Halkic told the Premier.

Mr Brumby said that he hadn’t seen the letters.

“That’s a failure in the system I think,” he said.

“I get a lot of letters but I don’t know if you’ve written to me, I have never seen them. I’m obviously very sorry for your loss.”

Speaking more broadly, Mr Brumby said: “When terrible events like this happen, we do try and improve thing and do try and improve the law.”

Both Mr Halkic and Mr Brumby featured in Leader Newspapers’ Don’t Hurt campaign, which aimed to raise awareness about the perils of cyber bullying.

>> Tell us your story about cyber-bullying, or how you avoid it. Have your say below.

>> Don’t Hurt: Our campaign

>> Get involved: Join the Don’t Hurt campaign on Facebook.

Leader’s campaign partner, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, joined Mr Brumby at the eSmart launch at Fitzroy High School today.

The initiative will include: a four-person action team at government schools and needy non-government school to promote cybersafety; training for staff to become a certified eSmart coordinator; and accreditation for eSmart school status.

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