Deakin University

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Respectful relationships education in schools: the beginnings of change

posted on 2016-10-10, 00:00 authored by S Kearney, C Gleeson, L Leung, Debbie OllisDebbie Ollis, A Joyce
Children and young people have become one of the most important populations for the prevention of gender-based violence. The unacceptably high rates of gender-based violence, in particular, violence against women and their children, are well established and there is a clear opportunity to change the story for future generations via the education system. There is no single cause of gender-based violence, however, the latest international evidence shows that it is primarily driven by a range of social norms, institutional structures, and organizational or community practices relating to gender inequality. Gender inequality manifests in every aspect of life, from our relationships through to our institutions, including schools. Shifting the pattern of violence will require cultural transformation- and new research shows that this change is possible. Governments have seized this opportunity, and through the Australian Curriculum, schools have been directed to consider their role in the prevention of gender-based violence through the incorporation of Respectful Relationships Education. Schools play a central role in the intellectual, social and emotional development of children and young people. The education system sets the foundation for creating future generations of successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. Recent international evidence shows that the impact of school based Respectful Relationships Education – if implemented according to good practice standards – can be profound. Schools are ‘mini communities’ where respect and equality can be modelled to help shape positive attitudes and behaviours at an early stage of life. As workplaces and community hubs, schools have spheres of influence which extend to a workforce of over 40,000 teaching and non-teaching staff in Victorian schools, and into every Victorian community. As such, their reach and potential to drive cultural change to prevent gender-based violence is significant. This report presents the findings of the Respectful Relationships Education in Schools (RREiS) pilot as one of the first evaluations in Australia to examine the impact of Respectful Relationships Education across the whole school – from the classroom, through to the staff room and broader school culture and ethos.







Prepared for Department of Premier and Cabinet and Department of Education and Training, Victoria

Publication classification

X Not reportable, A6 Research report/technical paper

Copyright notice

2016, Our Watch


Our Watch

Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.