Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by special guest Natalie Zelinsky, the chief operating officer of Stay Kind. ACM is supporting Stay Kind and its Kind July initiative.
Stay Kind started as a family foundation to protect young people like Thomas Kelly, who was killed by a one-punch attack aged 18. After the tragic death of his younger brother Stuart, also at 18, the foundation evolved and became a national movement of kindness.
Today, we are more determined than ever to keep our youth safe through a kinder Australia.
Australians, particularly in regional areas, have a strong sense of community. We are also known for our mateship culture.
Yet Australia also has a devastating number of young people who are ending their life every year.
Things like bullying, cyberbullying, hazing and mental health issues are having a dramatic effect on our youth.
Research suggests that moral disengagement is a common factor for bullying, cyberbullying, hazing and violence.
Lower levels of emotions are also considered to be predictive of higher levels of bullying.
Research also suggests that young Australians see themselves engaging in more acts of kindness, but are less likely than older generations to consider Australians kind.
What about kindness? There's no doubt that government, community, schools and industry organisations have actively worked to address these negative behaviours through community resources, policies, procedures.
There are many wonderful organisations doing great work in helping and supporting communities and young people.
To combat forms of anti-social behaviours such as violence and bullying, many excellent targeted programs have been developed. These programs largely focus on respect, a critical social value. Generally speaking, what we don't see is a reference point to kindness.
If you think about kindness as a grass roots value - the foundation of other values - how can you discount the true value of kindness in humanity.
When kindness is your core personal value, then respect will easily follow, as will other important social values.
If kindness is not part of you, or at the forefront of your mindset, it makes sense that it is harder to develop values of respect.
This strong personal moral foundation is also the foundation that supports our communities.
We see that sense of community, of people pulling together in the event of disaster or times of community need.
Yet we also see issues around violence and bullying in our communities.
We know what kindness is. We see kindness around us and many of us believe in it.
Could we all be kinder in a way that makes a difference to each and every day?
There are so many benefits to kindness.
Both the giver and receiver feel better, and there is the direct impact on families and communities.
Healthier and happier individuals reduce social and economic financial impact.
Most importantly, we are striving for our young people to evolve and be the people they were intended to be.
At Stay Kind, as part of a month of kindness we call #kindjuly, we are asking every Australian to pledge an act of kindness.
If each one of us pledged one act, that would be 25 million additional acts of kindness in just one month.
If every Australian did one act of kindness a day for the entire month, that would be 775 million acts of kindness in Kind July - and 9.3 billion acts of kindness every year.
To make this commitment to kindness more real and meaningful, we are inviting people to make a pledge via our website at www.staykind.org
We would love for communities to join our movement and plan activities.
Our website offers #kindjuly suggestions and there are other opportunities to get involved with Stay Kind if organisations wish to embed these values in their workplaces, communities or schools.
One act of kindness is a great start. We encourage communities and individuals to do as much as they can, as every act and action makes a difference.
We see kindness around us and many of us believe in it. Could we all be kinder in a way that makes a difference to each and every day?
Kindness can be simple, it can be free and it's easy to pass on. Kindness can also be more than that.
It's really up to you when you start using the true currency of humanity. Kindness is in your hands.
At Stay Kind, our mission is to make Australia kinder. To do that, we need you to join the movement. We invite you to make your pledge today.
If you or any one you know needs support, phone Life Line 13 11 14 or Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800.
Chief operating officer, Stay Kind