When it comes to teaching kids about domestic violence, the other states could benefit from following the NSW Government’s recent example.
That’s the message that the other six Premiers – and Christopher Pyne – are being asked to consider.
While other state education departments have been addressing the issue through their Respectful Relationships programs, only NSW has introduced classes which specifically talk about domestic violence prevention – a decision being applauded by domestic violence campaigners nationwide.
Prominent voices such as the National Children’s Commissioner, the Australian of the Year and the Domestic Violence NSW CEO are pushing for the idea to be rolled out nationally – a plan the Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, is resisting.
Minister Pyne insists the existing Respectful Relationship classes, along with several violence and safety initiatives already in place, are sufficient.
However, the National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, said children need more education on this issue and supports Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, in her push to have the same classes NSW is introducing rolled out nationally.
“It is clear that educating children about what healthy relationships look like and how they operate is very important, it is great that Rosie is raising the issue,” Mitchell told Perth Now.
Batty, a family violence campaigner, whose son Luke was murdered by his father, said workers and campaigners in the family violence sector were finally feeling heard and validated.
"I feel great positivity and change is imminent," Batty told a family violence event on the sidelines of the ALP national conference in Melbourne.
Domestic Violence NSW chief executive, Moo Baulch, and Brisbane Domestic Violence Service team leader, Kylie Robertson, are also advocating domestic violence prevention to be included in a more meaningful way within the national curriculum.
Responding to concerns the additional classes might burden an already crowded curriculum, Inspector of PDHPE at Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES), Karen Ingram, said the syllabus would simply be incorporated into existing classes on family and violence already being taught in NSW schools.
“In the PDHPE syllabus we already have a big component about respectful relationships, and there is already teaching about family and violence,” Ingram told The Educator.
“What we’ve now done is elaborated on the existing information to focus more on family and domestic violence.”