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    A whole-of–school approach to respectful relationships education not only provides in-class education, but addresses your school’s culture, policies and procedures, and promotes gender equality among your staff. 

    Effective respectful relationships education is about recognising that as well as a place of learning, your school is: 

    • An important hub in the community, with the opportunity to influence and contribute to healthy community culture. 
    • A workplace where all staff deserve to feel respected, safe and valued and be treated equally, regardless of their sex. 
    Whole school approach diagram showing the components of the approach as concentric circles with 6 main segments that describe each part of the whole of school approach. The diagram has teal and navy coloured segments with cream coloured writing.
    The whole-of-school approach.

    School communities, including principals, parents, community organisations, teachers and other staff, can help prevent violence by: 

    • Teaching students the skills to build respectful relationships, as well as recognise and challenge gender-stereotyping and violence-supportive attitudes. 
    • Creating a safe, equal and inclusive school culture for staff and students. 
    • Demonstrating appropriate and respectful behaviour to students. 
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    This toolkit supports schools to plan and implement a whole-of-school approach to preventing gender-based violence.

    Classroom learning will only change attitudes and behaviour when reinforced and when the core concepts of respect, equality, gender, power and consent are modelled across the whole school community.  

    While classroom activities targeted at students is important, respectful relationships education needs to address six components that make up a whole-of-school approach. Read more about these components below. 

    Leadership and commitment

    School leaders who understand respectful relationships education and are committed to driving cultural change are essential in the whole-of-school approach. 

    What does leadership and commitment to respectful relationships education look like? 

    • Appropriate financial and staffing resources are allocated to the promotion of gender equality and respectful relationships. 
    • A senior member of staff is responsible for ensuring that activities on gender equality and respectful relationships are coordinated in the school. 
    • Succession planning and leadership development processes address the specific barriers women face in becoming leaders. 
    • Key issues and actions related to gender equality and respectful relationships are incorporated into annual school strategic planning processes. 
    • Your school’s Code of Conduct includes a clear statement that all employees, students, parents/carers, volunteers and visitors will be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sex, gender identity, socio-economic status, cultural background, sexual orientation or level of ability. 

    Professional learning

    Building staff capacity and knowledge in preventing gender-based violence ensures all staff can contribute to a safe, equitable and respectful school environment.

    What does professional learning in respectful relationships education look like? 

    • All teachers are equipped to embed gender equality into the general curriculum. 
    • Some teachers are equipped to deliver specific gender equality curriculum, including content about gender inequality and gender-based stereotypes. 
    • Some teachers are equipped to deliver specific respectful relationships curriculum, including content about power and control, sexual consent and bystander action. 
    • Some staff are equipped to identify and respond to disclosures of violence from staff and students. 

    Teaching and learning

    Respectful relationships education is most effective when it includes teaching that supports students to understand and analyse gender roles, norms and healthy relationships in age-appropriate ways.

    How might this happen in your school? 

    • Your school provides explicit teaching and assessment about gender equality and respectful relationships. 
    • Teachers are supported to build their knowledge and understanding of gender equality and respectful relationships education. 
    • Your school regularly reviews curriculum content and teaching and learning materials and resources, across curriculum areas, to ensure equal representation of the range of experiences, knowledge, skills and aspirations of girls and boys, women and men. 
    • Teachers use opportunities across a range of subjects to actively promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes. 
    • Teachers challenge disruptive and dominating classroom behaviour in a framework that understands gender equality – for example, male students are not allowed to misbehave through excuses such as ‘boys will be boys’. 

    Families and communities

    Community partnerships can support you to ensure your work is safe and effective and communication with families can encourage the messages shared through respectful relationships education being reinforced at home.

    How might this happen in your school? 

    • Your school works in partnership with families and members of the wider school community to take action in support of gender equality and respectful relationships. 
    • Your school actively communicates with families and communities to engage them in preventing gender-based violence and supporting respectful relationships education. 
    • Your school participates in activities focused on gender equality and respectful relationships within the local and wider community, where relevant. 
    • Your school engages with community organisations that can provide support for preventing and responding to violence against women. 

    Support for staff and students

    Schools can play an important role in ensuring staff and students who have experienced violence are supported to get the help they need.

    How might this happen in your school? 

    • Your school develops and disseminates policies and procedures on how to identify and respond to incidents, suspicions or disclosures that a staff member or student has experienced, been exposed to or used violence. 
    • Staff are regularly briefed on responding to disclosures from students, staff and other adults. 
    • Your school has referral protocols in place with relevant response organisations, including domestic and family violence and rape crisis services. 
    • Your school policies and processes clearly reflect your legal responsibilities regarding student well-being and mandatory reporting, and all staff understand their responsibilities. 

    School culture and environment

    Embedding respectful relationships education in your school structures, policies, procedures and ethos can create lasting cultural change in your community.

    What might this look like in your school? 

    • Your school’s values statement including a focus on gender equality and respectful relationships. 
    • Communications indicating your school’s commitment to gender equality and respectful relationships made accessible/visible to staff and students this includes opportunities to promote messages of gender equality and respect in extracurricular activities and school events. 
    • It is the norm that all materials placed or distributed within your school promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes. 
    • Staff use language that is equitable and respectful and do not unconsciously promote gender stereotypes or gender inequality. 
    • Female staff have access to appropriate private breastfeeding facilities, including storage and equipment cleaning facilities for expressing milk. 
    • Flexible work options are offered to all staff, and are taken up by men and women, including those returning from parental leave. 
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    A five-step process to implement respectful relationships education in your school.

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    Find tools and resources related to respectful relationships education including evidence guides, toolkits and templates.