NSW schools commit to signing of Statement of Intent against sexual violence

Students will be further protected from sexual violence following the signing of a Statement of Intent by NSW Government, Catholic and Independent schools. Photo: NSW Department of Education.

 

A STATEMENT of Intent signed by all three education sectors on 26 March is the first step in driving cultural change around sexual violence.

Government, Catholic and Independent schools have agreed to help drive community and cultural change around sexual assault and violence by signing a Statement of Intent to strengthen the understanding of consent and harm prevention in the school community.

NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell welcomed the cross-sector agreement, saying it was an important first step by the education sector in leading meaningful change to address this community-wide challenge.

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“The testimonies of so many young people have created momentum on a whole-of-society issue that requires a coordinated response across government and the community,” Ms Mitchell said.

“While this is a whole-of-society challenge, the statement signed by the three education heads acknowledges the key role schools and teachers, in partnership with parents and parent organisations, will play in supporting change for people of school age and in the broader community.

“Through this Statement of Intent all education systems make a commitment to the young women who have spoke out with such strength: that we will do whatever is in our power as leaders and educators to make sure their sisters, or their daughters, and their friends, and future generations do not have to give similar testimony.”

The Statement of Intent identifies key areas where the education system and schools can lead meaningful change through curriculum provision based on evidence and best practice, increased support for teachers and school leaders, making sure the views of students are heard, and strengthening community and parent connections.

Ms Mitchell called on parents, as the most important educators of children, to support this work by talking to their children about respect and consent.

“These aren’t necessarily easy conversations around the dinner table and as parents we don’t always know if we have the language right,” Ms Mitchell said.

As a concrete first action for the NSW public school system, the Department of Education will be reviewing and revising the resources offered to both teachers and parents to help support student learning on this important issue.

Many local high schools, including Woolgoolga High School, currently run the Love Bites program for students, which promotes respectful relationships and discusses issues such as domestic and family violence and sexual assault to help prevent violence against women.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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