Our Watch welcomes Senate Committee recommendations on respectful relationships education

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Author: Our Watch media team
Posted: 15 Sep, 2023
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    Our Watch welcomes the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s findings related to respectful relationships education in schools in its review of Australian consent laws.

    The Senate Committee has recommended sufficient funding for respectful relationships education across Australia, and the upskilling of teachers to deliver the comprehensive program. These recommendations align with the evidence base.

    Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly who gave in-person evidence to the Committee said the report acknowledged the leadership and investment needed to embed a whole of school and community approach to help change attitudes to prevent violence against women.

    “Violence against women is not inevitable. It can be stopped before it starts by focusing in on the drivers of violence against women of gender inequality and disrespect.

    “Respectful relationships education is key to young people gaining a clear understanding of what respectful, healthy and consensual friendships and relationships are. It provides young people with skills to recognise and challenge harmful behaviours and stereotypes that can lead to violence against women.

    “Age-appropriate teaching and learning should commence as early as possible. For junior primary school students this might including learning about being respectful towards friends by asking for and giving consent for a handshake or a high-five. As children mature, consent education progresses in high school years and in TAFE and university settings.

    “Fundamental to successfully implementing respectful relationships and violence prevention education is developing a professional learning strategy that supports teachers to develop their knowledge of and confidence in the delivery of relevant curriculums.

    “Respectful relationships education goes beyond what is taught in the classroom and seeks to create a culture among both staff and students where gender stereotypes are challenged, gender-based discrimination is unacceptable, and gender equality is actively promoted, modelled and embedded across the entire school, not only through the curriculum.”

    The Senate recommendations support the importance of strong national leadership and funding to upskill teachers to deliver a curriculum that will improve safety and help prevent violence against women in Australia.

    Respectful relationships education recommendations of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, Current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia

    Recommendation 13

    The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government, through the Education Ministers Meeting and in consultation with relevant stakeholders, develops a strategy and delivers funding (in conjunction with the states and territories) for upskilling the education workforce, to achieve the consistent and effective delivery of comprehensive Respectful Relationships Education in Australian schools. This should include consideration of mandatory education in the Initial Teacher Education Curriculum.

    Recommendation 14

    The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government considers ongoing funding as a National Partnership Payment, to sufficiently resource those elements of Australian Curriculum 9.0 that provide for Respectful Relationships Education, including through a strategic investment in workforce development. Particular consideration should be given to addressing long-standing concerns about under-funding in public schools and the need to additionally resource specialist third-party providers.

    Media contact

    Please contact media@ourwatch.org.au or call 0448 844 930.

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    1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family, and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, chat online via www.1800RESPECT.org.au, or text 0458 737 732.

    To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit www.ourwatch.org.au/media-and-reporting

    Our Watch

    Our Watch is a national leader in Australia’s work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the practices, norms, and structures that lead to violence against women and children.