Our Families

AS PART OF OUR MISSION WE BELIEVE IN UNITING AS ONE TO END THIS CRIPPLING EPIDEMIC. OUR PROGRAMS CARRY ON THE LEGACY FOR ALL VICTIMS OF BULLYING.

ALLEM HALKIC

08/09/1991 – 05/02/2009

Born in 1991, Allem was the cherished only child of Ali and Dina Halkic. He was an energetic, happy teenager and grew up in a loving and supportive environment.

In February 2009, he took his own life at the hands of a bully. It wasn’t until 2011 when he was officially recognised as a victim of crime.

Up until the moment he met the offender in October 2008, Allem lived a happy life. Jealousy, manipulation and controlling behaviour by the offender would eventually lead to Allem’s death as the friendship grew sour.

Towards the latter part of 2008, the friendship became strained and the tone ultimately changed as a result of jealousy and a falling out over a girl. The bullying commenced soon after, with slander, verbal attacks and threats of physical violence as the cyber-bullying escalated. There were hundreds of threatening messages online against Allem. He felt his life was spiraling, but as the gentle and kind boy he was, he was more worried about his friends and family as the offender was now threatening those closest to him. Allem attempted many times to make amends, to appease the offender, to no avail.

On the evening of February 4, 2009, everything seemed normal. Allem had been at a friend’s place and returned home around 9.30pm. He went to his room and was engaged on his computer. He walked downstairs for a drink and a quick snack and we went to bed soon after. At around 1.10am, oblivious to his parents, Allem had a conversation with the offender, the contents of which are unknown. Following this discussion Allem wrote his suicide note; he contacted a friend and was dropped off to the Westgate Bridge.

His death was incomprehensible. The loss was overwhelming to his family and friends. From that moment, his parents continually campaigned to bring awareness to the dangers of cyber-bullying. As a result of this campaigning, on April 20, 2011 a hearing was conducted at the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) and, with the assistance of Schembri and Co Lawyers Essendon, Allem was formally recognised as a victim of crime. This was a landmark decision and the first in Australia.

Magistrate Capell found that the behaviour was an act of violence. He said, “It’s a recognition that in my view his death was a direct result of that criminal act of stalking and I’m satisfied in this matter it’s one of those rare cases where I would have to say the connection is just inevitable.”

This landmark decision allowed the Halkic family to restore Allem’s dignity and gave other victim’s families a glimmer of hope. His legacy lives on through each presentation BULLY ZERO™ delivers.

JESSICA CLELAND

17/09/1995 – 19/04/2014

Jessica Cleland was in the prime of life; about to start university, learning to drive, she had a beautiful family, a new job and everything to live for. Jessica also had a secret that not even those closest to her knew; she was being cyber-bullied by people known to her. As a direct result of this online torment Jessica, feeling that everyone would be better off without her, took her life on April 19, 2014. It was Easter Saturday.

Jessica and her family had already been through so much having survived the 2014 Mickleham-Kilmore bush fires, which devastated much of their property. As a result, she deferred her university studies and had taken a job at a horse stud farm. A lover of animals, she had adopted a lost cow rescued from the fires and named him Charlie. She also had a Staffy named Pilot, whom she absolutely adored. She was eagerly waiting to follow her passion and commence her studies in animal science.

Jessica loved to exercise, and would often go out in the mornings for a run or to ride the horses around the large property. On Easter morning in 2014, Jessica messaged her mother to say she was going for a run. She ran a kilometre away from the property and never returned. Her father Michael found her with her pockets stuffed with suicide notes for loved ones. “Please forgive me,” she had written.

The loss of Jessica was completely devastating for the Cleland family. Nothing seemed to add up. She was their sunny, funny girl. She was her sister Amy’s off-sider with the two sharing many a fun night out together and Jessica idolising her older sister. The Cleland’s were not satisfied and so set out to find the reasons why Jessica chose to leave this world. After accessing her iPad, they found nasty messages from boys known to her. These people had tormented Jessica sending horrible messages the night before her death.

Social media messaging played a big factor in Jessica’s death. She was able to access these messages easily, read them 24 hours a day, ruminate and ultimately take action in relation to the terrible messages she had received. Coroner Hawkins found, “This physical separation of parties to a conversation through online chat and SMS creates an environment where it is easier for individuals to say hateful and hurtful things without facing the immediate consequences of doing so”.

Jessica Cleland was only 18, she would have turned 19 the following September. She was a young vibrant teen with a bright future. She had a beautiful family, friends and everything to live for. Cyber-bullying took that away. Cyber-bullying then turned Jessica’s family into champions to make sure young people and keyboard warriors understand the devastating consequences of their actions. They do this so no family goes through what they did.