Respectful Relationships Program

‘2011 August Respectful Relationships
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Debbie Ollis
Senior Lecturer in Health Education
Deakin University

Debbie has been involved with Gender Based Violence (GBV) Prevention Education for many years. In this paper she talks about the Respectful Relationships curriculum materials trialled in Victoria in 2010.

Teaching about gender and violence was in the main a positive experience for the teachers involved in this trial. The teachers and students involved in the pilot were not alienated by the explicit focus on gender and violence, which was one of the fears widely expressed prior to implementation.

According to the students, covering issues in a supportive, inclusive classroom where they were actively engaged in their learning, where they had a chance to discuss and compare opinions, was key. One teacher who worked with a group of disengaged boys said that engagement was possible, and with engagement came the opportunity to teach. He commented,

‘You have to get to the boys who need it …get rid of the stupid factor, the smart comments …what they say and they think are often two different things. Boys can bring out the worst in boys. Boys are about image and performing with their peers …It’s a real challenge dealing with the homophobic and sexist language. They don’t see a problem with a term like ‘slut’. You have to be in there for the long haul …they don’t always get it. It has to be worked on …It needs to be fairly loose …let the kids set the direction …discussion and reflection.’