Respectful Relationships Program 

At Camberwell Girls, respectful relationships are deeply embodied in our educational philosophy including our vision, mission and values. Through our vision, we recognise the significance of educating girls who are passionate learners and are dedicated to building a more just and sustainable world. This is achieved through the culture of our community, our commitment to service learning and development of the whole person through numerous programs including our Positive Education program and health and wellbeing programs.

In tackling the issue of family violence and gender equality, the Victorian Department of Education and Training is rolling out a Respectful Relationships Program for all year levels as a part of the Victorian Curriculum.  The statistics in Australia regarding violence against women are very alarming. This is an important initiative as evidence has shown that education can play a powerful role in changing culture for future generations.

Relevant statistics include:

From the age of fifteen, one in five women experience sexual violence including rape, one in four emotional violence and one in three women experience physical violence

One in four Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner

Gender inequality contributes to the murder of almost one woman every week in Australia

In many cases young children witness this violence

The following clip provides a brief snapshot of the issue and has been produced by the Australian organisation, Our Watch.

The purpose of Our Watch is to drive nationwide change in the culture, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children.

After applying to the Department of Education and Training in November 2016, Camberwell Girls has been selected as one of the ‘Leading Schools’ in their statewide Respectful Relationships initiative. The application included a comprehensive analysis of CGGS’ capacity and readiness to participate in the initiative and the two year initiative involves a focus on six key areas:

A whole school approach to school-based primary prevention of gender based violence

Development of the school culture and environment

Professional learning to support school leaders, teachers and other school-based staff

Providing support and resources for staff and students

Building relationships with the community including responsive services, community groups and families

Support for a cluster of Partner Schools to implement this initiative.

We are delighted that seven schools (independent and government schools) have already agreed to partner with us and a number of others have indicated their interest. Throughout this term we will be focused on completing a Gender Audit and reviewing relevant data as well as consulting with student and staff groups.

I would like to acknowledge the team responsible for this initiative at Camberwell Girls – Cathy Poyser (Deputy Principal / Head of Senior School), Kath Woolcock (Head of Health and Physical Education), Craig Goodwin (Deputy Head of Junior School – Student Wellbeing) and Paula Kolivas and Beth Sarlos (School Counsellors). They have already begun work and training in earnest and our supervisors from the Department of Education and Training have already expressed their gratitude to me for being able to work with such a professional team.

We look forward to updating you as this project develops.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

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