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​Respect toolkit rolled out for every school in Australia

October 10 2016 By Hannah Grant, Media and Ambassador Program Manager, Our Watch

Every Australian school can access respectful relationships education, a key approach to ending violence against women and their children, with the help of an evidence-based toolkit released today by Our Watch.

Respectful relationships education gives children the skills to reject unhealthy, aggressive behaviour and discrimination and challenge stereotypes, said Our Watch Chief Executive Officer, Mary Barry.

“Education is key to preventing violence against women,” she said. “Schools are mini communities and can shape positive attitudes and behaviours at an early stage of life.”

Launched at the Respectful Relationships Forum in Melbourne today, the Respectful Relationships Education Toolkit was born out of a whole-school approach piloted in 19 Victorian secondary schools last year.  This approach treats schools as both educational institutions and workplaces, addressing the key drivers of violence against women; gender inequality and rigid stereotypes.

Evaluation of this pilot, delivered by Our Watch and the Victorian Department of Education and Training, showed clear improvements in students’ knowledge of, attitudes towards and confidence in discussing issues of violence, equality and respectful relationships. 

The positive impact of the pilot on students encouraged the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence to recommend that it directly inform a wider roll out. 

The Victorian Government has since announced $21.8 million in funding in 2016 and 2017 to begin realising their vision that every Victorian student from prep to year 12 will receive respectful relationships education. 

“Victoria is leading Australia in its commitment to comprehensive respectful relationships education. Our Watch commends the Victorian Government for this significant investment.  We hope every other state and territory government will follow suit,” Ms Barry said.
“This is essential if we are to achieve the generational change needed to end violence against women and their children,” she said. 

In 2015, an analysis by Price Waterhouse Coopers found that if respectful relationships education was rolled out in all government schools in Australia between 7,000 and 12,000 future incidents of violence against women could be prevented saving the economy up to $3.6 billion.

Find The Respectful Relationships Education Toolkit here.

Find the Respectful Relationships Pilot Evaluation here.

Quotes from Respectful Relationships Education pilot Evaluation:

“The chance to have a structured program where everything is supplied for us and that we can actually use to teach those behaviours, is for us, really important… It’s complex and difficult in knowing the right things to do and say. That’s something we need support with. We need to have expert advice on how to do that.” 
Focus group session, Assistant Principal.

“We call it family violence. We call it domestic violence. We call it all these things – it’s a euphemism actually. It’s male violence. Yet it doesn’t get labelled that.” 
Focus group session, Principal.

"People think that sexual assault is about sex, but it’s about power…It’s about a sense of entitlement.” 
Focus group session, Student.

“I think it’s a good idea to have this sort of program in more schools. It’ll stop the system; boys growing up thinking that they should be the more dominant person in the relationship and learning this now might stop that and make it less of a problem.” 
Focus group session, Student.
“[Gender inequality includes] the stereotype that the man [should be] more powerful [than a woman] so he can tell her what to do.” 
Focus group session, Student.

Media contact:

Hannah Grant, Media Manager, Our Watch: 0448 844 930 or hannah.grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

Access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children.


Our Watch leads Australia's work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts.

To do this the organisation works to increase gender equality and respect in all aspects of everyday life, such as through schools; workplaces; media; sporting organisations; social marketing, and developing and influencing public policy.

Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.