In this Section
- What is Respectful Relationships Education?
- How Does Respectful Relationships Education Relate to Prevention of Gender Based Violence?
- What Does Gender Based Violence Have to Do with Schools?
- How Are ACT Schools Currently Teaching Respectful Relationship Education?
- Respectful Relationships resources
What is Respectful Relationships Education?
Respectful Relationships Education (RRE) involves developing students’ skills, attitudes and understanding of gender inequality, respectful, equal and non-violent relationships.
How Does Respectful Relationships Education Relate to Prevention of Gender Based Violence?
The ACT Education Directorate is committed to making schools a place where staff and students promote respectful relationships and gender equality and do not accept gender-based discrimination.
Respectful Relationships Education curriculum has further developed in recent years, with the link between this area and primary prevention of gender-based violence becoming more widely understood.
RRE resources provide schools a framework to develop teaching practice and a school culture which supports our children and young people to develop relationships characterised by equality, respect and free from violence.
What Does Gender Based Violence Have to Do with Schools?
In addition to academic skills, schools teach and model positive social attitudes, personal resilience and wellbeing. Children and young people spend significant parts of their lives in the school environment, a place where their skills, attitudes, values and norms can be shaped and developed.
Prevention initiatives aim to shape positive and equitable attitudes and behaviours at an early stage of life. Attitudes, values and norms that do not accept violence can have a positive impact in reducing violence in our community through cultural change. Schools have a unique opportunity and critical role in contributing to generational change in preventing Gender Based Violence.
In Australia, violence against women is called many different things, including domestic violence, family violence, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault. This webpage uses “gender based violence” to refer to all of these terms, as all affect women disproportionately. Refer also to the page on Directorate’s website Domestic and Family Violence Support.
How Are ACT Schools Currently Teaching Respectful Relationship Education?
Schools work in a range of ways to assist students build the skills, values and attitudes required to develop and maintain positive, healthy and respectful relationships.
For example, many schools-
- reinforce concepts and messaging about respect, equality and kindness (and similar) through their school mottos and related activities;
- have behavioural approaches that explicitly teach positive behaviour and respect for others, for example Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL);
- deliver Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs in line with the Directorate’s Safe and Supportive Schools Policy (2016);
- use programs such as KidsMatter or Mindmatters that embed values such as respect into school routines, assisting to develop a whole school approach;
- use restorative approaches and strategies that facilitate students to develop skills such as problem solving and empathy, for example Circle Time;
- use Pastoral Care programs to focus on social and emotional learning.
Using these practices as a foundation, RRE further develops content that explores gender equality, respectful, equal and non-violent relationships. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) forms a good starting point from which to teach subject matter that more specifically explores gender norms, gender identity and respectful relationships.
The ACT Education Directorate recognises that RRE is most effective when used as part of a whole school approach, providing students with many opportunities to hear and think about key messages they experience across the curriculum and in different areas of the school and community. This approach reinforces gender equality, respectful, equal and non-violent relationships across the entire school through policy, practice, procedures, staffing, environment, leadership and culture, as well as within the classroom.
Respectful Relationships Resources
Resources for Families
Parents, carers and families play an important role in the process of cultural change to stop gender based violence. Gender inequality is a key driver of violence against women. Addressing gender stereotypes contributes to a future where women and men are seen as equal.
It is important to be aware of how different expectations are placed on boys and girls because of their gender. For example, the toys children are given to play with, the clothes they wear, the jobs they are asked to do around the house. Our expectations in relation to what games, stories and experiences they will enjoy often differ simply because they are a boy or girl. These expectations shape children’s views of who they should be, can be or can’t be.
#BecauseWhy is for families who want children to learn, explore and develop all the skills they’re interested in without the limitations that come with gender stereotypes. While children see gender stereotypes all around them, research shows that parents and families are the most powerful influence of young children's understanding of gender. As parents, you can question and challenge stereotypical constructions of gender roles, masculinity and femininity, and support children to explore whatever their interest is regardless of rigid gender associations.
Parents, teachers and role models have an incredible opportunity to teach and guide young people and gift them with an understanding of respect, fairness and equality. You can help your kids have healthy, happy and respectful relationships, and avoid behaviours that frighten, intimidate or diminish others. The Line, is a primary prevention behaviour change campaign for young people aged 12 to 20 years which provides videos and ideas for conversations-
Top tips for Parents and Carers:
- Know the warning signs of violence in young people’s relationships.
- Show children male and female role models who are succeeding in non-traditional careers.
- Model equality at home and in your own relationship, e.g. make sure your child sees you talking through problems in an open and respectful way and sharing jobs at home equally.
- Don’t reinforce gender stereotypes when you talk to children about things around them. Ask yourself: would I say the same thing to her if she was a boy (or to him if he was a girl)?
- Talk about sex, consent and gender whenever suitable opportunities arise.
- Question disrespectful behaviour and encourage young people to do the same.
- Take a stand against violence, sexism or harassment, and teach children how they can safely take action if they experience violence, sexism or harassment.
Resources for Schools
Schools select and access Respectful Relationships resources via commercial providers and freely available online platforms, including Our Watch, which meet the needs of their school setting. Some non-government organisations also provide training in this area which schools can utilise. For example, YWCA, PCYC and Menslink, please refer to respective websites for further information.
Our Watch: Whole School Approach Toolkit
This Toolkit has been created by Our Watch to support schools in delivering Respectful Relationships Education, and was developed as part of the Respectful Relationships Education in Schools (RREiS) pilot.
The Line Campaign
Our Watch delivers The Line, a primary prevention behaviour change campaign for young people aged 12 to 20 years. The Line supports parents, carers, teachers, educators, coaches and other influential people.
Home Page: https://www.theline.org.au/
Resources for Teachers/ Educators: https://www.theline.org.au/PractitionersAndEducators
White Ribbon Breaking the Silence Schools Program
Breaking the Silence is a professional learning initiative for principals and teachers that provides foundational knowledge, tools and strategies to implement respectful relationships and domestic violence education programs in schools. It builds on existing initiatives to strengthen a culture of respect and equality at all levels of the school community – through curriculum, role modelling from staff, policies and procedures, domestic violence education programs and strengthened family and community partnerships.
Social and Emotional Learning
Tasmanian Department of Education
The Tasmanian Department of Education maintains a whole-of-system, research based approach to developing and maintaining respectful relationships education. Their publicly available resource package, incorporates teaching and learning sequences, strategies, processes and skills to guide schools and communities in the explicit teaching of respectful relationships education. They are mapped to the Australian Curriculum. https://respectfulrelationships.education.tas.gov.au/
Victoria Education and Training:
The Victorian Government is implementing Respectful Relationships across Victorian schools and early childhood service. Victoria’s approach aims to embed a culture of respect and equality across our entire community, from classrooms to staffrooms, sporting fields, fetes and social events. This approach leads to positive impacts on student’s academic outcomes, their mental health, classroom behaviour, and relationships between teachers and students.
Queensland Department of Education and Training
The Respectful Relationships Education program has been developed for Prep to Year 12 students. The Prep to Year 10 programs are aligned to the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education and can be delivered through this learning area or as part of the school's pastoral care program. The Years 11 and 12 programs are designed to be delivered through pastoral care programs. They provide opportunities for teachers to guide discussions, address concerns, and help students work through sensitive and complex issues. The teaching resources are available online to ACT public schools via via Scootle (the National Digital Learning Resources Network managed by Education Services Australia).
Help and Support
Please contact one of the support lines below if this content raises issues for you and you need to speak to someone, or if you or someone you know is experiencing violence and needs help or support.
Call 000 for Police and Ambulance help if you or someone else is in immediate danger.
24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. 24/7 phone and online services.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State.
Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14.
Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia.
Support groups and counselling on relationships, and for abusive and abused partners.