Mother of bullied Indigenous boy Quaden Bayles calls for new law to address bullying at schools


Key points:

  • Yarraka Bayles has told a royal commission schools need a bullying reporting mechanism
  • She says it took a viral video for Quaden's problems to be addressed at his school
  • Ms Bayles says a "Quaden's law" could help reduce the frequency of bullying at schools

The mother of an Indigenous boy living with a form of dwarfism who threatened self-harm earlier this year has told the disability royal commission she wants a new law to combat bullying in schools.

A video of nine-year-old Quaden Bayles crying after he was bullied went viral in February after his mother Yarraka Bayles posted it on Facebook.

Quaden is a Murri boy who lives with a common form of dwarfism called achondroplasia.

Ms Bayles told a royal commission hearing in Brisbane she wanted a so-called "Quaden's law" introduced to help protect children from bullying.

"It's something that I have to do … come up with some sort of legislation that hopefully improves statistics and lessens the bullying statistics in schools," Ms Bayles said.

She called for "some sort of safety mechanism, maybe even an anonymous reporting system at every school where children could go to school, feeling like they were safe to receive an education".

"There are so many barriers to receiving an education for the average student, let alone a child from a different background or that may not speak English quite well or does have a disability," she said.

Ms Bayles said the law could work like Ryan's rule, which allows carers to request a review of a hospital patient if they feel their concerns are not being heard.

"At the hospital we have Ryan's rule. In the workplace you have lots of different processes you can take and you've got the anti-discrimination board — all of these things where you can report to," she said.

"But we're not feeling that there's anything that we're aware of that is serving and supporting students, so that's initially what we aim to achieve with Quaden's law."

A woman and her son standing at a railing that overlooks the Brisbane River, the Story Bridge behind them
Yarraka Bayles is calling for governments to introduce a "Quaden's law".(ABC News: Sally Eeles)

Still receiving threats

The video of Quaden was viewed millions of times and prompted an outpouring of support.

It led to an offer for Quaden to lead the NRL Indigenous All Stars side onto the ground for their clash with their Maori counterparts on the Gold Coast.

Ms Bayles was asked about the online trolling and abuse she had received since the video was released.

Quaden Bayles, seen from behind, waves to the Indigenous All Stars team as they warm up.
Quaden led the Indigenous All Stars onto the ground on the Gold Coast in February.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

"Still to this day, every day, [it comes from] people who think it's their business to make comment," she said.

"[There are] lots of death threats, physical harm against my children, my granddaughter."

'Just be kind and be nice'

In a pre-recorded video played at the commission today, Quaden was asked what message he would give to children who did not understand his disability.

He replied: "Just don't be rude to kids who have disabilities and just be kind and be nice."

Ms Bayles said Quaden now received more support at school and the bullying had stopped.

"It wasn't until recently that we are actually noticing some improvements, while the bullying isn't happening anymore."

Quaden Bayles at the Indigenous all-stars match on the weekend.
Quaden now feels safe at school, his mother told the commission.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

"It's been a huge success, so it gives me peace of mind knowing Quaden feels safe and supported at school now, whereas before he would beg me not to send him to school."

The school has employed an Indigenous support teacher, in a move which has been successful.

The school has also improved its physical supports. The work has included fixing a lift and making it easier for people with disabilities to move around the campus.

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