Ellen

Okay. So, with me today is Rob Hunter who is not a psychologist or a neuroscientist or any type of scientist as far as I'm aware. He is a teacher and has been a teacher with the Victorian Department of Education for many years and he has an extraordinary tale to share with us. I'm not going to give away too many of the details yet. I'm going to say welcome to Rob Hunter, and I'm going to say-

Rob

Thanks, Ellen.

Ellen

It's lovely to have-

Rob

Hi Ellen, good to hear. Good to chat and welcome listeners.

Ellen

Yes. Absolutely. It's lovely to have you here. I have just finished your published book Day 9 at Wooreen, and I'm going to ask you to share the story with our listeners of what exactly happened to you as a teacher on your ninth day of your teaching career in a little public country or rural school here in Victoria, because it is an extraordinary tale.

Rob

Yeah. Thanks Ellen. How long have we got? Can I talk for the next 10 hours, then maybe you'll get an idea of what happened, but-

Ellen

I know. Well look, we will have to... well, just give the highlights perhaps because I will encourage everybody out there listening to go and get a copy and read the book so they can be as thoroughly absorbed in the tale as I was. I had to get... Can you just start at the beginning. What happened on that day in 1977?

Rob

Yeah. So it was my, as you said, it was my ninth day on the job. I had nine children in my school and I was it, as far as the adult, I was the headmaster, the art teacher, the PA teacher, the caretaker, the bookkeeper, the works. I let the children out for recess at 10:30 AM and they came racing back inside soon after saying, "Mr. Hunter, Mr. Hunter, there's a man outside with a gun." And I went to the door thinking not too much of it. Thinking that it might have been somebody wanting to shoot a rabbit or something like that.

Rob

But I was forcefully and very scarily met by this balaclava-hooded character, sweating profusely, puffing heavily and pointing this gun directly at my chest and swearing at me saying, "Get back inside or I'll effing shoot you." The children were very uptight because they'd been threatened as well at this time. We all went back inside, sat down, and he proceeded to tell us what was going to happen. Ultimately he took us away at gunpoint and held us for ransom.

Ellen

So he's kidnapped yourself. This is the ninth day of your entire teaching career, and you're 20-years-old at this point, is that right?

Rob

That's correct, yes.

Ellen

Oh, no. I mean, so the whole of teaching is new to you, let alone this very unexpected experience and the children are just primary school age, aren't they?

Rob

That's right, yes. There's three grade six girls, a grade two and grade five children, boy and a girl, a grade four girl, they had three girls and two grade one boys who were only six. So the chains came out of ... unbelievably the chains came out of this red bag that he had. We were all chained in one long line to this one long chain with padlocks. Chained securely, chained to the wall and he quickly got his vehicle from around the back road and loaded us up into his vehicle.

Rob

Before he did, he separated me from the children, blind-folded me, gagged me, tied me up, and had me on the floor of this vehicle and the children laying down out of sight in the back of his Dodge, one Dodge utility and we then drove for around about two hours. Horrific, horrible darkness for me, helpless children vomiting, myself vomiting, children crying and banging on the panels of the vehicle saying, "Stop, we want a drink. How much... Stop." And there's people vomiting, et cetera, et cetera.

Rob

Yeah, I thought that maybe I would have got kicked out or shot and left for dead or something like this, but on we went. So fairly horrific sorts of stuff, Ellen.

Ellen

So basically... so during this entire time, he is literally threatening to blow your head off, et cetera, et cetera, and not just to you but also essentially to the children if anybody doesn't do exactly as he's asking...

Rob

Yes.

Ellen

... at this stage. And you're in a pretty remote, quite hilly area, so hence, you know, just a lot of motion sickness going on. You're obviously tied up and gagged and bound, so you can't see where you're going. And my understanding is you were pretty much just in the foot well of the front passenger seat.

Rob

That's right, yes, on the floor with my chest sort of up on the seat. So thankfully the gag had come off by the time I needed to vomit. He'd begun to talk to me. Because we were doing what he asked, he eventually calmed right down and we had a bit of a conversation, I suppose. He did most of the talking. I don't think I really answered many of his questions, but yeah, so we did stop and post a ransom letter at a little town called Mirboo North and that a 10-page document apparently. I didn't know it at the time but found out later that it was a 10-page document of unreasonable demands which included the release of 17 prisoners, of his friends, and a lot of money and all sorts of other things. Ammunition and guns, et cetera, drugs.

Rob

So we proceeded for these two hours and then the unbelievable took place. It's what I call in the book a divine intervention really, just impeccable timing. We had an accident with very ... there was hardly any vehicles on this road, occasionally we'd pass something, but on this one hairpin bend in the area we, just the perfect timing, met this vehicle and plowed into the back wheel of it. It was filling up, it was a big logging truck that filled up the whole road going around this hairpin bend and the kidnapper had no idea that the road was sort of impassable and he plowed into it and we got thrown back and we were lilting on the edge of the road, potentially going down this precipice. We should have gone down the precipice except for the fact that there was a long four or five inch square, solid, wooden post next to my door, which I never saw, that stopped us from going down that embankment.

Ellen

So this would have been the whole Utility, yourself, your kidnapper and the nine children in the back basically going off the edge?

Rob

Exactly. No seat belts. It would have been horrific. There would have been, if there hadn't been lots of deaths there would have been lots of broken limbs and it wouldn't have been nice at all.

Ellen

But you're not actually saved at this point, are you?

Rob

No, no.

Ellen

It feels like a moment of salvation, but that's not how it transpired.

Rob

No. It becomes the game changer. Up until this point he'd had things on his terms, but this is when things changed. The driver of that truck, he just happened to have his little brother with him that day, but those two men were kidnapped and the driver of that truck's name was Robin Smith.

Ellen

And he goes on to play a big part in this story later on, doesn't he?

Rob

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellen

And so tell us what happens next. You're there, he's basically taken these two individuals hostage as well, but you've got no vehicle, do you? Because the-

Rob

That's right.

Ellen

... [crosstalk 00:09:24] out of action, the logging truck's no good to you.

Rob

Yeah, yeah.

Ellen

What did he do?

Rob

So we wait for a long time, another truck comes along with two more men in it. We're in the remotest place possible it seems. Two more men come along in Robin Smith's second truck.

Ellen

Just by coincidence?

Rob

Yeah, well perhaps not so much coincidence because this is the track that these guys use, but the next bit is total coincidence. We wait for a good hour for another vehicle to come along after these, because there's now five men laying down on the road, chained in that chain that the children had and the children are free to just sit over in the gutter at the side of the road of this embankment.

Ellen

Being remarkably stoic and capable, it seems from the story.

Rob

Beautiful kids, beautiful, sensational. There's three grade six kids and the two grade five kids look after the other little ones and there's very much a family atmosphere. The older ones taking responsibility and keeping calm, they kept calm. There wasn't many tears, there was a few tears when there was vomiting and there was tears in the accident, but ultimately there was a lot of sensible behavior which, yeah, I suppose I kept, I didn't know what to do, Ellen. Like back in the classroom I did nearly grab the gun at one stage and I tried to get the children to walk outside when he left to get his vehicle and a few of these options to try and overcome this silly circumstance. But ultimately I played it relatively cool and just sort of kept smiling to the kids and saying, "It's okay, we'll just follow this through and it'll be okay" sort of thing and not realizing in many ways the repercussions of what was happening. I don't know, I was very naïve, 20 years old, just flying by the seat of my pants.

Rob

But then at this remote place not far from what they called English's Corner we're then going on a road called The Grand Ridge Road which follows the Strzelecki Ranges in this part of south Gippsland. A dirt road, up and down, around and around mountains. So five men now laying flat down, chained together in this remote spot. We wait for about an hour for another vehicle to come and the perfect vehicle comes along. Because if it had been a Sedan, a little car, I'd venture to suggest the five men might have been left behind perhaps with a bullet in our head, I don't know, with the children to himself. But as it turns out a combi-van with two beautiful women-

Ellen

Women who became, again, a big part of this story. Luckily for the children they became the caretakers for the children because you were literally unable to do anything to assist them. And these were ladies in their 30's or 40's?

Rob

Late 40's, perhaps even early 50's. I call them angels in the book, two beautiful women who were able to ... the kidnapper allowed them contact with the children. I hadn't been able to get near the kids since we'd left the school, now chained up and set apart from the children. These women were able to cuddle, hold, console, cry. Well, the women didn't cry but the children did on these women. Comfort, beautiful care, they were godsends. And the vehicle was a godsend because we were all able to fit into it and we were able to go on our way. It suited the kidnapper, but it also suited us.

Rob

And then we drove for another two and a half or so hours until we found his campsite that he had set up for us.

Ellen

And you've got no idea at this stage really where you are or-

Rob

No.

Ellen

... where you're going. You were relatively new to the area. Although you're Victorian, you hadn't grown up or had much time spent-

Rob

No.

Ellen

... in the heart of Gippsland, isn't it?

Rob

Exactly, yeah, yeah. I just, I was at my wits end, I was on the edge totally. Thankfully these other four people, now four blokes and two beautiful ladies, I was able to chat with briefly in the back of the vehicle while we were driving and they had a good idea where we were. And they were positive and they knew who the kidnapper was too.

Ellen

That's another facade to this story, isn't it?

Rob

Yes, yes. Do you want to precis that, Ellen, or me?

Ellen

Well this is not the first time he'd done this, as it turns out.

Rob

No.

Ellen

Can you tell us what had happened previously?

Rob

So in 1972 he'd done this ridiculous stunt prior to me, he'd kidnapped Mary Gibbs and her six children who were at school that day from Faraday Primary School near Bendigo. That happened in '72 and he was caught and he was put in jail with his accomplice, Robert Boland and he was angry about this because he didn't think Boland was guilty and he went to jail angry and he escaped from jail angry five years later to do the repeat offense.

Ellen

And I'm guessing just because of your age at the time the fact that this had happened previously, you probably hadn't connected those ... I mean you must have only been then, what, 14 or 15 years old when that previous kidnap happened?

Rob

That's right. I'd have been a student in year 11 at my high school and I'd remembered the event and when the ladies said to me in the back, "Oh, you know who this is, don't you?" And I said, "No, I've got no idea." They said, "That's Edwin John Eastwood who did the Faraday kidnapping" and I thought, ah-hah, okay. So yeah, eventually we get to this campsite and we camped there for the night. Us five men chained around this massive tree and that's where we spent the night and it's relatively calm and the women are still able to console the children and they were able to sleep with the girls, the boys sleep in the camper van and around about later in the morning, about five AM or four AM we fall asleep, including Eastwood the kidnapper falls asleep. And Robin Smith, by this stage, has been able to get his hand out of the chain by a very subtle little trick that he applied which Eastwood didn't realize and it's a bit hard to explain. You've got to read the book to understand that one everyone.

Ellen

Yeah, absolutely. Read the book.

Rob

Yeah, but he was able to get his hand out of the chain and then he crept off in the night hoping against hope that Eastwood was asleep and he risked his life. He risked taking a bullet, he would have been a dead man, I'm quietly confident. He ran pretty much 10 kilometers to the nearest farm house to call the police and set out the alert.

Ellen

And so as a consequence of that the police do ... there's a bit of high drama then when Eastwood awakes to find that Robin Smith is gone and he'd bundled you all up back into the combi van kind of instantly, doesn't he? And then there's a little bit of, there's a whole something out of a movie police chase with shoot outs and all sorts of things that happen that ultimately lead to your-

Rob

Yeah, that's right. We're saved, we're rescued, the police are heroic in this as well. They probably weren't perfect, they missed their trying to shoot out the tire and a few bullets went in places that they shouldn't have gone, but thankfully no-one got hurt except the kidnapper was shot in the leg when he was arrested. So the rest is history really. But the trouble when you have trauma like that is just why we're talking about this, Ellen, isn't it?

Ellen

Yeah.

Rob

That trauma like that doesn't go away.

Ellen

No and I know, Rob, that even a couple of ... when we first mentioned Robin Smith and then the ladies who came along in the combi van, there was emotion for you, you were starting to tear up a little even now and we're talking, what, I'm trying to do the math, 39 years later, is that-

Rob

42. 42 years later.

Ellen

42. Goodness, I can't even add up myself. I should be able to work that out because I was about four in 1977.

Rob

Yeah.

Ellen

So 42 years later this is still an emotional-

Rob

That's it.

Ellen

... experience for you talking about it.

Rob

And for me it's a gratitude emotion, there's an emotion of thankfulness for what Robin did and for those women turning up. It's gratitude for the way in which it turned out good and so ... one of the ... I think, Ellen, you're going to highlight this in a minute, but I spend a lot of time talking with secondary students these days, running my kidnapped teacher talks, Health After Hurt. And I say to them you can focus on the positive about this, I'm not thankful for the kidnapping itself although in a way I am now because it gives me an opportunity to talk about these things, but at the time I focused on how thankful I was for these people like Robin Smith and those two women that I call angels affectionately in the book.

Ellen

So we'll come to that in a moment. I'm interested to know what were the after effects? Because this is not, you know, I can't imagine that there was kind of critical incident counseling rolled out for you, that just wasn't the done thing in the 1970's.

Rob

No.

Ellen

So what was the kind of approach in terms of how you dealt with or were encouraged to deal with the incident immediately following and the effects on the children as well.

Rob

Yeah, yeah. Well it was a classic case of post-traumatic stress disorder, I think, that we all experienced in a very naïve, uninformed, uneducated manner and essentially we got back on the horse. We went back to school. The four eldest children went into Leongatha to school there and nobody really knew what to do. The education department didn't give us any counseling. In those days it hardly existed. Psychologists and psychiatrists were around, but you had to be a very hard case to be going to that sort of therapy. Yeah, so what were the repercussions? Well there was a lot of flashbacks, there was a lot of feelings of what do I do with this? I think there was a danger for all of us to become self-absorbed and to overplay the events because it was national sensationalism.

Ellen

It would have been all over the headlines, I can imagine. In fact you talk in the story in that campsite of being able to hear some of the radio announcements late at night saying a teacher and students have disappeared from this school. At this stage nobody knew where you were or what had happened. The ransom note had been posted, but we're talking about in the days of snail mail, it would have taken a while to-

Rob

That's right.

Ellen

... get to it's destination, wasn't it?

Rob

Yeah. So it was all over the papers for days on end, particularly in Victoria for a good week. There was articles, photos and feature ... front page, second page feature articles. So that's sort of dangerous in a way and you don't quite know how to deal with all of that. I had, I think, episodes where I had palpitations and revisiting some of the things. A particular incident when I nearly grabbed the gun when it was in the kidnapper's back pocket while he was leaning over chaining up a student. I could have reached the gun, it was well within my reach. For a long time afterwards whenever I thought of that, that I nearly grabbed the gun and could have done something very silly, I had hot sweats and palpitations and red face and, you know, all of that sort of stuff happened. So they're the sort of things that came afterwards. Sleepless nights, yeah.

Rob

And I don't ... family were very good, friends were very good, the families of the children, of the students were good too, but we still didn't get fully in touch with our feelings. We never really had an opportunity to go in depth to some of the details of it.

Ellen

The mindset back in those days was really ... and probably really until relatively recently when we think about it was it's best not to talk about it, let's just get on with our lives and almost pretend that it didn't happen, that would be the healthy option. Which we now know is not the healthy option, but it was a very different time and we deal with the information we have to hand.

Rob

Yes. Yeah, yeah. And that was certainly my family's option, family's default position. Let's not make too much of a fuss about this otherwise it might take root or something. And that was the parents of the children's position as well. No opportunity really to, yeah, talk it through and debrief properly. The best opportunity to debrief in actual fact was probably my police statement. I had a wonderful policeman who just kept on, I think, for nearly three hours allowing me to recreate and state all of the details of what had happened.

Ellen

But still not really an opportunity I suppose. Because as I read the book, and this was part of what you described, not only were you fearing for your own life, but you were responsible at this point for those nine children, that was both your professional obligation but also kind of your moral obligation at that point. So there's a lot of layers there in terms of, I suppose, the trauma that you-

Rob

The responsibility, that's right. Yeah, yeah. And I agonized over the parents, what the parents thought and how they were going to cope, how they did cope. There was a little bit of a question of why didn't you do this or why didn't you do that, which was fair enough. And there was even a question about my integrity, had I actually kidnapped them initially.

Ellen

Yeah, because no-one knew what had happened, did they? Nobody else had necessarily connected the dots to-

Rob

That's right. It wasn't until police arrived and had been there for some hours that they connected the dots properly. This was in fact the Faraday kidnapper.

Ellen

Probably they didn't think he's try the same stunt twice.

Rob

No, that's right. And I must admit, Ellen and listeners, I wasn't looking at ... my appearance wasn't a professional look.

Ellen

You were a 20 year old in 1977.

Rob

Yeah, I had a ridiculous beard and unkempt hair that made me look a little bit like a bushranger rather than an educator.

Ellen

And do you think, Rob, that your youth in this situation, whilst that brought within a number of challenges, I'm wondering in terms of the psychological implications whether maybe that helped rather than hindered.

Rob

I'm sure it did. It really did help because my naivety, youthfulness and naivety combined together, I was involved with a lot of community things, football, cricket, local church, family, girlfriend, lots and lots of friends and a really good mate that I was living with at the time as well and so my social calendar was always full. I just got back on with my life really and the kidnapping faded into the background really. Which is partly a good thing, but in some ways I probably didn't fully deal with it. Although I think because of the ... there's a few principles that I now apply to my kidnap teacher talks that I do in school, there's a few principles that did get me through this that I think essentially gave me a state of being healed from that trauma.

Ellen

So tell us a bit about this. So these are presentations that you're now giving, as you said, to high school students and it is called Health After Hurt, so it's looking at using your experience to talk through how do we deal with difficult things in our lives? Perhaps not at the same level of trauma that you've been through, but lessons learned that we could all apply I suppose to our own experiences.

Rob

Yeah.

Ellen

So can you just talk us through some of the key topics that you address in these conversations?

Rob

Yeah, great, love to. The students just love it, it's become a vehicle to be able to talk about these healthy principles because they're gobsmacked by the story, they're sitting on the edge of their seat and before they know it they've heard these healthy principles which, in some circumstances, would be boring, but because of the context I'm pretty sure they get it as well as they possibly could.

Rob

The first one which I mentioned earlier was gratitude. I remember listing in my mind how thankful I was for Robin Smith, for the two women, for the police. Awesome, heroic things that some of those guys did. The timing of the accident, thankful that we'd had that scary accident that could have killed us all, but in actual fact became a game changer, become a catalyst for our safety afterwards. I was thankful that I still had by job, that the children hadn't been hurt. I remember focusing on these things and so I say to the students, if I wasn't that, what's the opposite of that? And they usually just say to be ungrateful. And I said, yeah, well that is the opposite of being grateful-

Ellen

The literal opposite.

Rob

Yeah, the literal opposite, but I could have focused on how hard I'd had it or how sad I was or how my career had been stuffed up or my life had been stuffed up or I'd lost my four best kids out of the school and labored that point and dwelled on that and sort of become self-absorbed in my own hurts and my pains, but gratitude I think helped so much in continuing to have a positive mindset moving forward.

Ellen

It's a way of reframing things, isn't it? To be able to say I do have a choice here, which gives you power just knowing you have a choice and I have a choice here in how I think about this situation. I can choose a way that helps me to feel better, stronger, more resilient or I can choose a way that is going to pretty much take me down what is often a negative pathway and a negative spiral.

Rob

Absolutely. And so I say to the students, what about you guys? So what are you ... you and I, we probably all do this sometimes, we wish we were smarter like that other kid or we were more attractive or more handsome or better at sport or had more money or a better house or a better family or something instead of, hey, hang on, we have got all these other things, let's be thankful for what we've got. And I mentioned that statement, I complained when I had no shoes until I met someone who had no feet. Just a matter of perspective. I also like telling them the story of Nick Vujicic, the guy with no arms and no legs and no worries, who becomes an international motivational speaker despite his no arms and no legs. They get that too.

Ellen

Yeah, yeah. So lovely engaging ways to help kids to understand the concepts that you're talking about. Concepts that, as you say, would otherwise would be a bit dry or boring. We talk about ... certainly as a psychologist I'd say, well this is about psychological reframing and perspective taking, but that's not very engaging.

Rob

That's right, yes. That's right.

Ellen

So actually-

Rob

Yeah so the-

Ellen

Oh, sorry-

Rob

The conduit, it becomes a conduit to talk about those principles, yeah.

Ellen

So gratitude is one of these themes that you talk about. What are the others?

Rob

So number two is forgiveness. And that's a tricky one. I say to the students, and I pause for effect, hey, I chose to forgive Eastwood. And I then look at them and I say, again, I chose to forgive him. And I said, would you do that? No.

Ellen

Couldn't do that.

Rob

No. So then I used the illustration, and it's quite a powerful image of the chain that was wrapped around my wrist. If I hadn't forgiven him, it'd be like that chain was attached to him with anger and bitterness and resentment and the desire to get even with revenge. But I'd be dragging him around with me for the rest of my days, weighed down with those angry thoughts, you know?but forgiving him released, undid the lock, it was like a key of forgiveness that unlocks the lock which frees the chain and allows me to move on freely into my future, unencumbered, unhindered from those emotions that I could have hung onto.

Ellen

And it's such an interesting way to think about forgiveness, isn't it? And I think you say in the book you do have some, a little kind of Q&A sort of thing, frequently asked questions I suppose, where you respond to those and you say you don't, you can't forget what he did.

Rob

No.

Ellen

It will always be there, but by forgiving him it is releasing those chains.

Rob

Yes.

Ellen

Yeah.

Rob

Yeah, and I also add it's not saying it was all right, it's not saying it was okay mate, do it again whenever you like sort of thing, it was not okay, but it was relatively easy for me to forgive too, Ellen, because justice had been done, he'd been caught. It was a clear cut case. I feel for a lot of other people who justice is often not done, the perpetrator is not caught, the victim continues to lament the fact that their perpetrator has got away with it. So that becomes very difficult for people to try and forgive. It's a process. There's some other aspects to it that I'd like to explain too, that forgiveness is like forfeiting the right, if you like, to stay angry and to want revenge. It's letting go of that inclination because that's the unnatural state, isn't it? To sort of, he hurt me and I'm hurting, I want to hurt him too.

Ellen

[inaudible 00:37:16] to that. Yeah, yeah.

Rob

So it's sort of like a gift to be able to let go. It's not easy to let it go, but to be able to do it requires a lot of guts I guess. It's not an easy decision and it's often a process and we often need counselors or chaplains or psychologists or somebody to help us go through that process, yeah?

Ellen

And the thing that struck me too about framing forgiveness like that, I think often when we think about that, forgiving someone, it is more of that, oh that's okay, it's all right, I forgive you. So us sort of bestowing forgiveness on them like they deserve it somehow, and yet the way you frame it here it's really got nothing to do with the other individual, it's forgiveness for your sake. I have to forgive the situation, forgive what's happened to me in order for me to move on.

Rob

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I say to the students, if I hadn't forgiven and I was dragging him around, I said who's that hurting? Is that going to hurt him? Is he going to ... am I going to get him back by hanging onto this? Uh-uh, he doesn't even know, he's getting on with his life or he's in jail or whatever. It's only me that gets hurt, so it's a sort of no-brainer in a way, but still it's not easy to forgive. I say to the kids or the students it's, for me it was just a decision I knew I needed to let go. Actually it was a prayer really. God, I forgive him. I let go. And I do also explain that sometimes for some people going through where they write out on a piece of paper how hurt they've been, the emotions they feel and what happens and then with a friend or with a counselor they put a match to it and then-

Ellen

Let it go.

Rob

Okay, it's gone, I'm letting it go. Or throw it off a bridge or something. I'm not advocating littering, but-

Ellen

Symbolic bridge.

Rob

Yeah. Doing something like that that's got a bit of imagery to it that helps you let go of that pain.

Ellen

So gratitude, forgiveness, is there another theme in there that you like to talk these students through?

Rob

Yeah. I like the heading outward focus, having an outward focus, reaching out other people and getting over yourself and being kind to somebody else is so healthy. Because you forget about yourself for that moment when you reach out to this other person. For kids at school it might be a I'll help you pick up your books that you just dropped or something, or helping, or just taking an interest in another person. I love that saying what you sew is what you reap. Students at school say, what does that mean? And they don't get the word reap very well. I explain that reap is about harvesting, but to simplify it what you give is what you get. If you give lots of kindness and lots of thought and consideration to people, it comes back to you and it's so good. Or if you give rubbish, crap, nastiness, hatred, it'll come back.

Rob

And I suppose I sort of skipped this I suppose, but at the beginning we talk about hurt people who hurt people. And the opposite of that is a hurt person who's prepared to, okay, I've been hurt, but I'm going to let go of it and I'm going to reach out to somebody else and be kind and all of a sudden the opposite happens. I'm reaching out in kindness to someone and it actually comes back to me, which is really the opposite of what a bully does. Hurt people hurt people and we take it out on our loved ones, so if we don't deal with this well, hey, we end up being an abusive husband or abusive father or a bullyish teacher. But in actually reaching out to other people in kindness, a lot of the negatives become undone and you turn it into good.

Ellen

So really the role there of just that human connection, which we know is so important to human's wellbeing, just connecting.

Rob

Yes, yes.

Ellen

And then, yeah, acting with kindness, acting with compassion and I wonder whether too ... I know certainly in positive psychology, the field in which I work, we talk about the role of having a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives for people's wellbeing and how even just those acts of kindness, how helping other people, perhaps helping our, the volunteering or just doing things that are outside of ourselves that contribute to others might be tapping into a bit of that sense of meaning and purpose, which we know helps to boost their wellbeing.

Rob

Yes, yes. Because it's a bit of a default position for a lot of us, when things are going bad we sort of look inward, don't we? I know I have in the past. And you sort of, poor me, nobody loves me, everybody hates me sort of stuff and you want to just, I don't know, indulge in a bit of a pity party. But to be able to get over yourself and to reach out and defy our tendencies to become a bit self-absorbed, really just changes everything. And all of a sudden we realize, oh, okay, it's not just me that's in this world, I've actually got a job to do and it gives you such a buzz, doesn't it? When you know you've been able to help somebody else. It's very fulfilling and adds meaning and purpose to your life like you just said, yeah.

Ellen

Yeah, so just the outward focus. So forgiveness, the gratitude and outward focus, so contributing to others and seeing where you can be kind and think outside of yourself a little bit. Even give yourself a rest from being inside your own head.

Rob

Yes, exactly. Yeah, yeah. So they're the first three and then my final one, which sort of is partly wrapped up in it all in a way, is having something to believe in or for me I use the words having a strong foundation, something to build your life upon or a set of beliefs of a structure. For me it was my Christian faith, but I say to the students it doesn't have to necessarily be a faith or necessarily a Christian faith, but something that will give you a real purpose and a meaning. It will give you something to build upon. The beauty about my Christian faith was that it got me doing those other three things. I knew it was right to display gratitude, I'd been forgiven so I forgave and the example within the Christian faith is to reach out in kindness and love to other people, so that was sort of the way in which it worked so well for me. And then there's some great causes for people to believe in and to follow, but that was what was really helpful for me.

Ellen

And do the kids, when you're talking about that, do the kids have ideas or examples of things that work for them as kind of a foundation or a set of structures?

Rob

Yeah, I think they get it. A lot of them love sport and they want to sort of live for sport, which I think is a good ideal in a way, but the trouble is with sport once your body gets a little bit older you know you can't do it, but you can still be interested in it, but it probably doesn't help you with some of those other areas like forgiveness or gratitude. You know there's some heroic people in the sporting field like I think of [inaudible 00:46:39], what motivates that beautiful man? I don't know, I'd like to get inside his head. What's his foundation that's made him so heroic? I think there must be something pretty deep there, whether it's a faith or just a strong other sentimentality, I don't know. But as somebody said on a Facebook post the other day after he'd done his heroics again, I reckon he should be Australian of the year, that bloke. I agree.

Ellen

Yeah, yeah. I'm wondering too whether ... so as you're talking about those sort of firm foundations and to my mind just having a clear sense of core values I suppose. I know that the primary school that my children go to, and I think this is not uncommon now in primary schools, but I do know it's really well lived at our primary school is just having those values. So for them it's care, excellence, respect, community and something else that I've forgotten. Or maybe it's just the [inaudible 00:47:47], I don't know, I need to find out from the kids, they'd remember.

Rob

Is it kindness?

Ellen

I don't know if it's kindness. Care and respect it could be. But anyway it's a language that they use, it's something that they do come back to. I know I do it because I know them, so when I see them behaving in a way that I say, well you know what? I don't think that's really showing care and respect. But I can use the language back and I think that for kids it's a lovely model to have of these sort of set of structures that are just, you know, these are ways that we behave, these are helpful ways for us to behave and we have words around them and language and we can pick out examples of when and why that feels good.

Rob

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And the primary school that I've got a lot to do with at the moment has those core values as well. Respect, kindness, community and like you I can't remember what the fourth one is.

Ellen

It's always a list, you can never remember the last one on the list.

Rob

Yeah.

Ellen

Okay, and how do kids respond to this? I have read the testimonials on your website and I will link to that in the show notes for this episode that people can go and have a look. It seems very well received and I know you said that having that, the engaging story that gets them on the edge of their seat kind of opened their minds up then to the content that you share, but is that the kind of response that you're getting from kids?

Rob

Yes. Yeah, yeah. Teachers almost always say, Rob, these kids haven't behaved like this, I haven't seen them so well behaved all year. They were so attentive and so engaged. So yeah, they're responding really well. I guess, I mean I'm hopeful that those healthy principles will sink in. Most of them are very engaged but I know just because I'm used to working with students that it won't necessarily sink in for a lot of them. But I just hope it still might be a link in the chain for them, or a piece in the puzzle that when somebody else then says something they're like, yeah, that's right, that's what that bloke talked about who got kidnapped and that's a good principle. Okay, I understand that now.

Ellen

And that's often what I say when I'm working. I work with adults in work places, but often you're introducing concepts that can be complex and that don't ... I often say these things won't land right away, it could be weeks, it could be months, it could be even years when something else happens and all of a sudden this idea sort of, it's almost like, again, there's enough weight in your mind that something drops and you go, oh yeah, that's like that mentor ... I kind of, I see it now. So yeah, that's always mine too, it's just the hope that it's going to land at some point.

Rob

Yeah, yeah, terrific. Terrific, Ellen, yeah. So kidnapped teacher talks, Health After Hurt, I should soon mention too about the book. So Day 9 at Wooreen-

Ellen

Yes, yes.

Rob

... the students are mesmerized by the book. I always give away a copy to each year level and some lucky student who happens to say the right thing at the right time earns a book if you like. And the rest of the kids say, oh, I want one, can I have one? But I'll present one to the school as well. But this book now is published by Wilkinson, which is fantastic, they're a little bit better than my self-published effort and it's now available in book shops right across the country really. And if it's not in your book shop near you, you can go online and order it online as well.

Ellen

Order a copy, yeah. And I will put links to the book and to-

Rob

[crosstalk 00:52:10].

Ellen

Oh, we've dropped out a moment, have we? Am I back? We've got some dodgy ... can you hear me?

Rob

Yeah, you're sort of half ... every now and again you move and every now and again I hear a syllable.

Ellen

Okay, oh yes, I've just ... the message has finally popped up on my screen that says your internet connection is unstable. That's okay.

Rob

Oh right, so I think we're almost back on now.

Ellen

Yeah, is that better? Is that little bit better? Hopefully that's okay.

Rob

Ellen?

Ellen

Now you've frozen.

Rob

Yes, Ellen Jackson's network bandwidth is low it says here.

Ellen

Yeah, I wonder why that's doing that. Okay, well look, let's just finish off. My producer can pull all of this together and make sure that things aren't getting missed and I can always re-record these little last bits if needs be. But I will put links in the show notes to the book. As you say it's published by Wilkinson Publishing, I'll point people to all the good places where they can purchase a copy. It is a fantastic read I have to say, I demolished it very quickly. Also to your seminars, your webpage so that people can find out more. I'm sure, I know we have a lot of teachers who listen in, so I'm sure there will be some very interested in perhaps getting you along to speak and share your story with their students so that they can benefit from all of this experience and learning that you've had as well. I think I've lost-

Automated Voice

This meeting is being recorded.

Ellen

Sorry about that, I just dropped out entirely for some reason.

Rob

I think we're back again.

Ellen

I think we are, yes. So I was just saying, I don't know what it got captured on, you probably didn't hear it, it might have kept it at my end, but just in case I will pop a link to the book, as you say it's published by Wilkinson Publishing, in the show notes of this episode so that people can find out where to get their copy. It is a fantastic read, I demolished it in a matter of a couple of days, thoroughly ... I always feel funny saying I enjoyed a book like this because I don't feel like should be enjoying your terribly difficult story. But as a reader I really enjoyed the read which was great. I'll also link to your website so people can find out a bit more about your presentations and seminars that you give. I know we have a lot of teachers who listen in, so they may well be very interested in getting you along to share your story with their students and introduce some of these ideas around gratitude, forgiveness, that outward focus that you mentioned and having a sense of meaning and purpose and some structure in our lives to help us to all recover from the challenges that life presents us with.

Ellen

Thank you so much, Rob.

Rob

Thanks, Ellen.

Ellen

I really appreciate your time and sharing your story. Best of luck with it and, yeah, we will go forth and sell some copies of the book.

Rob

Great. And I've had a good look at your website too, Ellen, and seen a lot of that awesome work that you're doing and, yeah, well done you because I reckon that's inspiring and so supportive and helpful for so many people who you're working with. And I'm sure that podcast and the podcasts will continue to have a great impact.

Ellen

I hope so.

Rob

Yeah.

Ellen

I hope so, that's the aim. Thank you again, Rob, I really appreciate it. It's been lovely talking to you.

Rob

Okay. Thanks.

Ellen

Cheers.

Rob

Bye.

Ellen

Bye.