THE Darkan Sheepfest, to be held on Saturday, February 9 this year, has earned the reputation of being a ‘good old fashioned, fun and safe country show for the whole family’.
Sadly there are some families in Australia whose children don’t feel safe and aren’t having fun.
This time last year, Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, a 14-year-old country girl from the Northern Territory took her own life.
It is unimaginable to think of the grief parents feel when losing a child, but it is incomprehensible to learn that it was due to the bullying and cyber bullying by somebody else’s child.
In Dolly’s own words it is now time to “Speak, Even if Your Voice Shakes”.
Local health professional and Darkan Sheepfest committee person Pam Stockley said the event last year raised a considerable amount of money for the Black Dog Ride and created a high level of awareness for that organisation.
“Given our focus this year was to engage youth more at our show, it made sense to have a charity that had a focus on youth mental health,” Ms Stockley said.
“It was unanimous that Dolly’s Dream was just the right one.”
The event kicks off at 9.30am and the two headline events will be the inaugural Farmer versus Footballer Farm Boot Foot Race and the Young Farmer Challenge.
Last year’s popular events, the Sport Shear and Ewe Hogget Competitions will be held again.
The Dunk for Dolly Tank is expected to be a very special and memorable event.
West Arthur chief fire control officer Duncan South, a local farmer and father of three, is more than happy to be ‘dunked’ for this important cause.
“Our children are very precious to us,” Mr South said.
“We want them to feel confident about coming to us with their problems so that we can help to resolve them.
“We also hope that their friends will come to us if they notice that there is something wrong.
“Communication between family, friends and community will hopefully protect and help our children.”
Darkan teenager and boarding student Odette Telfer,15, loves nothing more than spending time with her family and friends.
“I couldn’t imagine life without my beautiful friends and family, their love and support means a lot to me,” Odette said.
“Dolly is a heartbreaking reminder that we need to take care of each other and be compassionate.
“You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.”
Another way to combat bullying is through early education.
Darkan Primary School principal Eloisa Goss, a recent finalist in the WA Department of Education Awards, is a strong advocate for the safety and well-being of children.
“It is important that we all know what bullying is and that we all understand what constitutes bullying,” Ms Goss said.
“The ‘National Definition of Bullying’ in Australian schools allow us to develop this common understanding.
“We use the Department of Education’s ‘Protective Behaviours’ program to help our children strengthen their ability to keep themselves safe and minimise risks.
“There are many personal safety issues that our children are exposed to and we are now more aware of the physical and emotional trauma of bullying and cyber bullying.
“It is important our children develop personal safety and resilience skills.
“You can start by simply talking at home with your children, helping them identify and understand their feelings.”
Darkan Sheepfest will once again provide free entertainment for children with only a gold coin entry fee.
There will also be a Sundowner to round out the event, with a bar, aptly named the ‘Baa!’ and a band until 10pm.