‘Stop being busy, talk to your kids’: Dolly’s family warns


Dolly Everett's parents have warned mums and dads to take the time to have tough conversations with their kids about how they're coping.

Kate and Tick Everett says parents need to slow down, and spend time to sit and talk with their children instead of just saying "it'll be right".

Dolly died in January 2018 at the age of 14 by suicide, after enduring relentless bullying.

Kate tells Qweekend today that Dolly didn't confide in her parents about how she was feeling; 'she kind of kept it all a secret'. She says she wish she had taken more time to stop and talk to Dolly about what was going on at school.

Tick says parents could often get too busy in the day to day of life.

Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett.
Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett.

"You're busy and always thinking and trying to put a positive spin on things rather than sitting back and going there is an issue here, maybe we should just slow down,'' Tick says.

"I mean hindsight is always your best friend too. But I think as parents if we slowed down a little bit and we weren't so worried about taking a day to sit down and talk to our kids instead of saying it'll be right."

Kate and Tick's warning comes as figures show Queensland children struggling with their mental health, cyber bullying and suicidal thoughts are calling the Kids Helpline at record levels during the coronavirus pandemic. The figures have sparked an urgent recruitment drive for 100 extra counsellors to keep up with the demand.

Kids Helpline chief executive Tracy Adams.
Kids Helpline chief executive Tracy Adams.

Tracy Adams, the Chief Executive Officer of Yourtown which operates the Kids Helpline, said calls to the national hotline have increased from 6000 to 9000 a week on average since March with about 1730 calls each week from Queensland kids alone.

"If we compare from last year for the same period of time we're up 14 per cent for Queensland, so almost 45,500 contacts for Kids Helpline counselling just in Queensland this year," she said.

"Kids Helpline supports young people from the ages of five right through to 25 and we have seen growth in our younger cohort our five to 10 as well as our biggest growth area is very much in the teenage component."

She said the biggest reasons for contacts were mental health, emotional wellbeing, family relationships, suicide-related concerns and child abuse.

Dolly’s sister Meg Everett, holding Dolly’s hat. Picture: Lachie Millard
Dolly’s sister Meg Everett, holding Dolly’s hat. Picture: Lachie Millard

Ms Adams said there had been a "concerning" rise in the number of "duty of care" calls in which a counsellor deems the child to at imminent risk of harm and ambulance, police or child protection officer has to be called in.

In Queensland, calls for help with cyber bullying have spiked since by 12 per cent since the start of the pandemic as more children spend time more time at home and online.

"We've also seen an increase around cyber safety in general so that relates to concerns or worries about content or activities that young people are engaging with online," Ms Adams said.

The helpline has been forced to begin an urgent recruitment drive for counsellors to keep up with the demand and by the end of the year, will have increased its ranks by 100 staff. Fifty new staff have already been hired since March.

"We're doing what we can to meet the demand and we really need counsellors who want to share in what we do in supporting young people," Ms Adams said.

According to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, the number of people reporting behaviour such as cyber bullying, image-based abuse and sex-based extortion has more than tripled since coronavirus restrictions took effect.

Tick and Kate Everett with their eldest daughter Meg at home. Picture: Lachie Millard
Tick and Kate Everett with their eldest daughter Meg at home. Picture: Lachie Millard

Brad Langoulant, the head of the charity Dolly's Dream which was established in the wake of the tragic death of 14-year-old Dolly Everett who took her own life after relentless bullying, said the organisation had seen a huge rise in kids and parents seeking advice during the pandemic.

"We've certainly seen a big increase in parents and carers looking for advice on how to keep their teens safe online during these times," he said.

The website has already had almost 200,000 visits this year as well as a significant spike to its Parenthub resources for parents and carers.

Mr Langoulant said tens of thousands of people had visited resources about encouraging teenagers to ask for help.

"Many teens are still being bullied and keeping quiet about it," he said.





Originally published as 'Stop being busy, talk to your kids': Dolly's family warn parents