Katy Haire | Achieving Generational Change conference 2018


I’d like to join the other speakers in acknowledging
that we’re meeting on traditional Aboriginal land today and pay my respects to the people
of the Kulin nation and to leaders past, present and emerging. And it’s particularly important this week,
as Reconciliation Week, to remind ourselves of that. And in the context of talking about the prevention
of family violence, thinking about the children who were taken away from their mothers as
part of the Stolen Generation, which is what we’re thinking about this week, in Reconciliation
Week in particular. So thank you so much, Minister Hutchins, for
your opening. And also thank you to Emily for that fabulous
potted history of Respectful Relationships in Victoria. I think my role here today is probably two
things, to kind of build on Emily’s fantastic overview. One is really to, on behalf of the Department
of Education who are working to mainstream Respectful Relationships, to thank you, to
thank the family violence sector for your contribution to this very, very large undertaking. And, secondly, I think my other purpose, which
is a very joyful one, is to bring to you some of the voices of that rollout and show you,
talk to you a little bit about the impact that it’s having, and share with you some
of the early signs of success that we’re seeing. So as you know, the Family Violence Royal
Commission recommended Respectful Relationships as a key plank in prevention. And we believe that it’s already driving generational
change for thousands of Victorian students in government, Catholic and independent schools. As well as being a key family violence reform,
Respectful Relationships education supports our efforts to make Victoria the education
state and supporting the outcome of children being happy, healthy and resilient. So I’ve talked, Emily’s covered the kind of
the history from the role of the family violence sector in driving change and bringing us up
to 2015, to the Our Watch pilot, which I may have also had an involvement with in the Department
of Health and Human Services, and the establishment of Our Watch, which was a significant statement,
I think, to have a national body devoted to prevention. And it was through that work, as Emily has
said, that the idea of taking a whole school approach to prevention got further traction. And the pilot that Emily spoke about ran in
19 schools, and the evaluation found that in a short period of time, a surprisingly
short period of time, young people’s attitudes and understanding about gender and violence
improved. Schools also reported that classroom behavior
improved, including the relationships between students and teachers. And, thirdly, noting that it’s just as important
to support the work of teachers and build their understanding as it is to reach the
students. The evaluation found that there was a positive
effect on staff members, encouraging them to look at their own attitudes and improving
their understanding of the importance of promoting gender equality and respect. So in 2016, the same year that we received
those findings from the pilot, the Family Violence Royal Commission highlighted the
devastating impact of family violence on children and in our communities. And also highlighted, as we’ve said, the critical
role that schools and early childhood services can play as agents for change in preventing
and responding to family violence. And the 2016 Budget provided $21.8 million
to start the process of implementing the whole school approach to Respectful Relationships. And the approach we’ve taken has been to build
on, to learn from and build on the pilot that was run by Our Watch which, as Emily said,
also had longer antecedents. To scale that up and make it sustainable across
an entire system. So let me talk a little bit and briefly, as
briefly as I can so that we can get to the voices, let me talk a little bit about what
that looks like. So Emily mentioned the whole school approach. And this was the basis of the earlier work
and also the Our Watch pilot. A whole school approach to Respectful Relationships
goes beyond what is taught in the classroom to look at a school’s culture and ethos in
staff rooms, on sporting fields, in school councils and in all those social events that
make up the fabric of school life. Fetes, theater productions, swimming carnivals,
graduation days, school formals and so on. And the whole school approach does this through
six elements that you can see on this slide which, of course, is just a slightly different
version to a slide you’ve already seen this morning. And I won’t run through those six elements
because you’ve already seen them, but I think that it’s important to highlight the importance
on this wheel of community partnerships. And to again thank you, the workers and leaders
from the community sector and the family violence sector who are supporting schools in this
work. And again to reiterate that your support of
the schools in this work is absolutely invaluable. It’s early days in some ways. We’ve been doing this work at the larger scale
for about a year. But we consider that by working together we
are already seeing strong, robust referral pathways, prevention and response activities
in place for schools and for students. And that this holistic approach, taking the
whole school approach and involving the community, is recognizing that schools are far more than
educational institutions where we send young people off to work. Schools are also workplaces where staff should
feel safe, valued and respected, regardless of their gender. And schools play a crucial part in their local
community. And so, consistent with good prevention policy,
bringing the work to where people live, work and play, schools are an absolutely crucial
site for prevention work. So where are we up to? This year, in 2018, we have over 1,000 Victorian
schools implementing the Respectful Relationships whole school approach. And some of the members of our team from the
department are here today, and they can certainly tell you we were overwhelmed between the launch
of the Respectful Relationships initiative around the corner from here about 18 months
ago, I guess, to today. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the
interest and engagement of schools and communities in supporting this rollout. And so we aim to have a thousand schools. We have slightly more than a thousand schools. And we’ve also gone a little bit above and
beyond the Royal Commission’s recommendation to extend the initiative into early childhood
education by creating professional learning about Respectful Relationships for 6,000 early
childhood educators, which is going to commence later this year. So Emily talked a bit about the importance
of having not just the program and the curriculum and the focus within the school, but also
the need to have embedded support within the Education Department and links out to the
community. And that is part of the model that we are
rolling out. Our Respectful Relationships workforce, the
new workforce you heard a little bit about before, is a team of 34 staff members based
in our 17 local areas who provide support to schools and early childhood settings to
implement Respectful Relationships and to strengthen referral pathways and the response
to family violence. Noting, as you all know, that as awareness
increases so too do the need for referrals and disclosures. I know some of the people from our Respectful
Relationships teams across Victoria in the Education Department are also here today. And I’d love … Don’t feel that you have
to put your hands up, but thank you to you for the work that you do. Your dedication and your work at the grass
roots level, driving change with teachers, principals and the community sector, is absolutely
essential to this work. The model that we’re using has a leading school
and partner school approach. So we have 151 lead schools who receive intensive
training and support, and you’re going to hear from a couple of those. And then their role is to mentor clusters
of partner schools in their local areas. The tailored Resilience, Rights and Respectful
Relationships teaching and learning materials, for years prep to Year 12, are aligned to
the Victorian curriculum and are part of how we support the in-class implementation of
Respectful Relationships. And crucially, professional development and
learning for school staff. And as I’ve said, in early childhood settings
our approach to Respectful Relationships is through professional learning for early childhood
professionals. We have a range of other supports as well
for the rollout within the department. We have the dedicated health and wellbeing
staff in schools and regional offices. We also, again as a result of one of the recommendations
of the Royal Commission, we have a family violence principled practitioner, a former
person who worked in the family violence sector, who plays that leadership role in our department. And we also have family violence guidance
policy training and workplace contact officers for staff experiencing family violence within
the department. So we are taking that look, that entire system
look. And as Emily said, with two years in we’re
also very interested and very open to the reflections that you may have on how that
is working so far. So two years in, I’m really pleased to say
that the recent budget has confirmed an additional two years of funding, a further $22.8 million
for the next two years of rolling out Respectful Relationships. And this will mean that we can expand even
further. We will bring the total of leading schools
to 302 by the year 2020. We’ll continue the professional learning for
teachers in schools. We’ll also have the option of professional
learning for a further 2,000 early childhood educators. And the team I talked about, the 34 people
in our regions, their roles will continue. The evaluation of Respectful Relationships
we’ve talked about already, I think that one of the most crucial things from the evaluation,
the previous evaluation, told us that we needed to take a whole school approach. And now, as we’re evaluating the rollout that
we’re undertaking since 2016, it’s crucial that we look at the whole school and the whole
community approach, and how well that is working. And that’s partly why we’re thrilled to be
here today and to get your input and your views on how that’s working. The evaluation needs to tell us how to continue
to embed and improve this approach. And we are ever interested in how we can make
this better and stronger, and how we can improve the relationships within schools, within communities
and with our partners. And the evaluation that we’re undertaking
will inform the next phase. Potentially lead to further resources, some
improvement of our professional learning, and we hope build an even deeper connection
with the family violence and community sector. I’ve already talked a little bit about early
childhood and the approach that we’re taking to professional learning for early childhood
educators. As many of you will know, in early childhood,
in kindergartens, we don’t have teachers and classes as such. We do, of course, have teachers but their
role is through play-based learning. And so working with the teachers to understand
how to support children in safe and respectful ways, to build their understanding from an
early age, is the purpose of our early childhood professional learning. And understanding and developing Respectful
Relationships in early childhood will will stand those children in good stead as they
enter into more complex environments of school. And we’re very much looking forward to rolling
that out, commencing in the next couple of months. So enough of the administration detail. Let’s hear from … I’d like to share with
you some of the voices of people who are working directly in Respectful Relationships now. I want to share with you some of the changes
that are underway in our schools. We recently interviewed Jess and Connor from
Yarra Hills Secondary College, who you can see on the slide behind me. And their principal, Robyn Dew. Jess said, after participating in Respectful
Relationships classes, she now has a better understanding of how to speak out against
gender stereotypes. Jess said, and I quote, “I know how to handle
the situation if someone is being told they run like a girl or to man up.” Connor said the program had made him aware
of what’s happening around him, including how some comments can make other students
feel excluded. And in relation to gender stereotypes, Connor
said, “Now that I know what this stuff is, I keep an eye out for it and I’m more aware
of what I say myself.” Which is actually a really nice confirmation
of the public campaign that’s rolling out as well. The principal, Robyn, said that students are
now pulling each other up if they hear disrespectful comments in the schoolyard or the classroom. She said, “It’s changing the culture of our
school for the better. It’s giving students a platform to say I’m
not happy with what’s going on here, and they can willingly speak up about it.” She also said, “Our teachers are working to
support students to develop their resilience, social skills and coping mechanisms, and I’m
proud to say I can see a change across the whole school.” Moving on to Spring Gully Primary School,
anyone here from Bendigo? Hello. I’m from Bendigo as well. My brother and sister went to Spring Gully
Primary School, so I’m very happy this is one of our examples. Spring Gully introduced Respectful Relationships
in 2017. They had a Respectful Relationships Celebration
Day open to the whole school community to help dispel some of those myths about respect
about Respectful Relationships, and for parents and carers to see firsthand what it really
means. The school invited parents who are in careers
that are not traditionally held by their gender to come in, work here and talk about their
jobs. To challenge students’ perceptions which,
as we know, are formed from a very early age. And this included a female senior sergeant
from the Bendigo Police Force. A dad who’s a nurse came in his scrubs gear. And a mum who’s a geologist came in her hard
hat. And the event expanded the students’ perceptions
of who could have those careers, and reinforced that gender should not exclude or prevent
any young person from reaching their full potential, nor should it circumscribe in particular
the opportunities and options for women. Maryborough Education Center is one of our
schools that’s been with the program since the pilot in 2015. And the principal, David Sutton, has been
one of our most supportive principals. He’s talked, he’s a passionate advocate, and
some of you may have heard him speak before. This photo is a showcase of a collaboration
of years eight, nine and 10 students. And the students worked on this themselves
because they wanted to visually represent Respectful Relationships. And what the students said they wanted to
do with this beautiful piece of graffiti art is reflect that women are beautiful, nurturing,
successful, strong and empowered. And if you talk to David, which some of you
may have done, he will also talk about how deeply the professional learning and the understanding
about gender stereotypes has impacted on his staff and changed their very DNA in how they
think about the dynamics in their classroom and beyond. So I’d like to finish by showing you a short
video, if I’m allowed to. It’s really good because, rather than hearing
me telling you what the teachers and parents said to us, I thought you might like to hear
it from their own lips. And I think as we’re on this journey, it is
a wonderful opportunity to stop and reflect and think about the successes and the achievements
so far. Thank you.

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