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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 2068

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (12:44): Individuals in our community who have had issues with their physical appearance are sadly, as we have heard, on the increase. Usually when we think of a person's body image for males or females we think of one's shape and size. However, we unfortunately are seeing a broader range of variables that can have a negative impact on the way an individual sees himself or herself.

In particular, in my electorate, the potential for differences such as ethnic diversity, skin colour, religious diversity and the requirement for religious attire affecting young men and women's body image is quite significant. The Northern Territory, and indeed Darwin and Palmerston, is a melting pot of ethnic and cultural diversity, and this is almost always celebrated. But occasionally, particularly amongst our youth, this can be a source of bullying, exclusion and subsequently the development of negative body image.

A negative body image develops when an individual has negative feelings about himself or herself around his or her physical appearance. This can of course develop into some serious wellbeing issues and impacts significantly on one's mental health, to the extent that it can develop into serious psychological and physical issues such as eating disorders, social isolation, depression and anxiety and can even result in self-harm.

In order to combat negative body image in our community and to rid our youth of these horrible disorders, we must work together—government, non-government organisations, youth groups, schools and politicians. We all have to work together for this common goal. The Butterfly Foundation, who are here in the gallery, are arguably the leading body on combating the evil that is negative body image and eating disorders. Butterfly's vision and mission are to live in a world that celebrates health, wellbeing and diversity, and that is a mantra that all of us can aim to live by.

As my community's representative in the federal parliament, I am aware of my duty to promote healthy living, exercise and a positive body image in my electorate of Solomon and throughout Australia. To show my support for a positive body image and a healthy lifestyle, I present a positive image award each year to a local school in my electorate. Dripstone Middle School are holding their end-of-year presentation and awards night tonight back in my electorate. While I am disappointed that I am not going to be there, we have Rohan Kelly, an outstanding community leader, who will be presenting the positive image award to Izzy Jarvis on my behalf. Izzy has promoted consistently positive images and always worked in a positive manner while at Dripstone Middle School.

As I said previously, it is important that our community and its leaders take a united approach towards the promotion of a healthy mind and a healthy body. Another school in my electorate, Rosebery Middle School, along with Palmerston Senior College, is involved in a partnership program with Palmerston Girls Academy. The program challenges the girls physically and focuses on components of a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, positive self-image, work readiness, leadership, team building and emotional and self wellbeing.

Recently I attended the Palmerston Girls Academy awards night, and I was delighted at the incredible results this program has achieved in such a short time. The year 7 cohort had no suspensions, which was just an amazing achievement, and the 97 per cent of the girls involved in the program received positive comments in the school system. This is in contrast to a couple of years ago, where there were 127 negative entries. The girls had very, very poor self-image, were not attending school and were not doing lots of other things. The attendance rates have been absolutely outstanding. In all cohorts, over 80 per cent of the girls were attending school, so they were obviously feeling good about themselves.

I have said that I am committed to being involved with this program because I have seen firsthand how it works and the incredible positive results that this impact is having on our schoolkids in our community. These goals are something that I am confident that our government will support, and I will certainly be showing my support by doing my best as a member of this parliament to advocate and educate my electorate about the sad and unrealistic promotion of body image that is detrimental to our youth.

I just want to finish by saying that at the Palmerston Girls Academy the award for best and fairest was to Lateesha Coombes. The award for best training attendance was to Edna Tom. The Palmerston Girls Academy community member of the year was Peggy Tom. (Time expired)