By Luke Voogt
Drysdale’s Pippa Swanwick has taken her anti-bullying crusade online following years of campaigning.
“I just want people to be able to stand up for their rights and be safe online,” the 29-year-old said.
“It’s a safe site where you can leave comments up and the people can relate to the stories.”
Pippa, who has Down syndrome, has been a passionate supporter of the cause since high school in Melbourne, where she experienced bullying firsthand.
“I was discriminated against because of my disability,” she said.
“They spread rumours about me – I felt pretty sick and left out.”
Pippa’s friends and her partner, Paul Matley, who she met at her 18th birthday party, were among her biggest supporters, she said.
“He supports me in my anti-bullying and so does my best friend.”
Proud mother Pat Trowbridge described Pippa as “a very strong-willed young woman”
“She knows where she is and where she wants to go,” Ms Trowbridge said.
“People always say to me, ‘She’s so independent, you’ve done such a great job’.
“I didn’t really have a choice. From the time she was born she just wanted to be out there with the kids and do the same things.”
Pippa’s family enrolled her in a special-needs school after she became a victim of “classic teenage-girl exclusion“ in years 7 and 8, Ms Trowbridge said.
“Because she was slightly different she was never invited to anything and never included in the playground conversations.
“The kids would quite blatantly say we don’t want her in our group. There were definitely two occasions she was set up by other kids.”
Pippa speaks out against bullying in a peer action group with Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALiD).
Last December she addressed an anti-bullying morning tea with Point Lonsdale Primary School students.
Pippa’s page is at facebook.com/antibullying.com.au.