The state’s education department has mandated that classes on domestic violence prevention will be taught in state schools from Prep to Year 10 as part of a “respectful relationships” curriculum which will replace religious instruction teaching.
A spokesman for the Victorian Assessment and Curriculum Authority (VCAA) told The Educator that students will build an understanding of what “constitutes and characterises” respectful relationships in the home, school and community.
“In Victoria, learning about respectful relationships is included in both the Health and Physical Education curriculum and the Personal and Social Capability curriculum,” the spokesman told The Educator.
“Content on gender-based violence is included in the curriculum in the context of the broader setting of respectful relationships.”
In Victoria’s primary schools, students will learn about the meaning of the concepts of “health” and “safety” and actions they can take to ensure they are healthy and safe.
In the state’s secondary schools, students will develop an understanding of the interaction between healthy relationships and wellbeing, and learning about the factors that build and hinder the development of positive relationships.
Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, told ABC radio last week that the new program was an improvement on the previous one.
“You can’t have 20% of school kids undertaking special religious education, while the other children are not getting teaching or learning, during precious curriculum time,” Merlino said.
“I understand that some people are going to be upset by this decision, but it’s the right thing to do.”
As of Term 1 next year, NSW schools will teach students in Years eight to 10 about how to recognise – and possibly prevent – domestic violence in their households.
Leading domestic violence activists such as Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, and Domestic Violence CEO, Moo Baulch, have called for other states and territories to follow suit and teach domestic violence prevention classes in their schools.
However, Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, has rejected the idea, saying the existing respectful relationships classes are sufficient.
Earlier this month, Domestic Violence CEO, Moo Baulch, told The Educator that the states and territories must go the “extra step” and educate children on how to identify domestic violence, as well as how to respond to it.
“We’re going that extra step and naming domestic violence and talking about what that looks like in relationships – whether that is for young people in their relationships or whether they’re one of the one million Australian children who are growing up in domestic households where domestic violence is occurring,” Baulch told The Educator.