Respectful Relationships Programs at CGGS
Following on from the Principal’s communication to parents on 6 March, we will be sharing a range of articles and resources in CamNews. We have also created a dedicated ‘Respectful Relationship’ icon on Parent Engage where materials will be uploaded to provide parents with an overview of our programs and structure across both Junior School and Senior School – https://parent.cggs.vic.edu.au and then click on the Respectful Relationships icon.
If you wish to discuss any aspects of our programs, please don’t hesitate to make contact with:
> Kath Woolcock, Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing
> Emma Hinchliffe, Deputy Head of Junior School
Respectful Relationships Programs at CGGS
Respectful Relationships are at the core of healthy relationships, whether that be in friendships, between teachers and students, workplaces, families or within intimate relationships.
As a result of the findings from the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2016, the Respectful Relationships education became a core component of the Victorian Curriculum. Secondary to this, was the establishment of the Respectful Relationships Initiative and for the past four years, CGGS has been a lead school delivering professional learning to a number of independent and government schools across Melbourne’s Inner East including; MLC, Strathcona, Ruyton Girls School, Camberwell Grammar School, Trinity Grammar School, Xavier College, Scotch College, Balwyn Primary School, Boroondara Park Primary School, Camberwell South Primary School and Blackburn Primary School.
The Respectful Relationship initiative aims to equip schools and educators with the skills and knowledge to tackle the issue of family violence and gender equality through a preventative whole school approach. It provides a framework to support school settings in promoting and modelling respect and equality, whilst explicitly teaching how to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence.
The Respectful Relationship Team at CGGS has worked closely with staff and students to cultivate an understanding and appreciation for respect, resilience, rights and responsibilities within and across all types of relationships. We have focused on three key areas to shift the dialogue both our own and the wider community across both the Junior and Senior School:
> Student Voice
> Awareness Raising
> Curriculum and Programs
Student voice has been a pivotal component of ensuring that our students take an active and authentic leadership role in the whole school approach to Respectful Relationships. This has been achieved through the following:
> Establishment of the CGGS Annual Student Survey from Years 5 – 12
> Establishment of Student Wellbeing Captains at both Junior and Senior School
> Student Representative Council at both Junior and Senior School
> Senior School Student Wellbeing Focus Groups
> Establishment of the Student Wellbeing Action Group
> Leadership Focus Groups and workshops at both Junior and Senior School
> Attendance at Student Conferences such as International Women’s Day Breakfast and The School Leaders for Gender Equality and Respect Workshop, yLead workshops
> Engagement in Respectful Relationships collaborative projects at both Junior and Senior School
In raising awareness of stereotypes, inequalities, power and control in relationships, the aim has been to create a community environment that is informed, confident and ready to step up, lead and to challenge the people and opinions that perpetuate gender inequality. This has been achieved through:
> The Junior and Senior School Respectful Relationship Badge
> Establishment of our annual whole school Celebrating Diversity Week and Diversity Forums
> Student Gender Equality Assessment Tools at both Junior and Senior School
> Celebration of Harmony Day
> Celebrating strong, successful young women across all aspects of society
> Parent Education Seminars and Student Workshops that focus on creating healthy, happy families and building respectful relationships
> International Women’s Day Celebration events
> National Day of Action Against Bullying activities at both Junior and Senior School
> Safer Internet Day event at Junior School
> Hosting of the Anglican Diocese ‘Preventing Violence Against Women’ Conference on 15 May 2021
Curriculum and Programs:
Curriculum has enabled us to provide opportunities for our students to understand relationships, the law, gender identity and to shape their self-concept, self-efficacy, and self-confidence so that they can develop the knowledge and skills required to reject and overcome the gender stereotypes that may attempt to define them. This has been achieved through a number of curricular and program initiatives including:
> The purposefully designed Year 9 Respectful Relationship Health Unit, that tackles gender stereotypes and challenges the ideas of power and control in relationships
> Years 9 and 10 Health Curriculum that explicitly explores consent and the law.
> Junior School BRAVE Curriculum
> Social and Emotional Learning Units across both Junior and Senior School
> Relationship, empathy, conflict resolution and communication skills developed through Mentoring and Wellbeing classes
> Years 11 and 12 workshops and guest presenters from Family Planning Victoria, Sex Education Australia, Red Frog, Paul Dillon and Victoria Police.
Respectful Relationships Curriculum (including consent)
As part of our work with the Respectful Relationship Initiative, our students explicitly explore consent in an age appropriate and scaffolded manner, using a three-tiered approach to build on prior learnings from year to year. The first two tiers focus on creating a common language, culture and understanding, including being able to critically evaluate messages on and offline, and the third tier is the explicit teaching of content that explores more complex ideas such as consent.
> Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships Curriculum is taught from Foundation to Year 6 and in Years 7 – 10 as part of Health and/or Wellbeing.
> This curriculum was established as part of the Respectful Relationship Initiative and focuses on positive education and social emotional learning, which are the foundations for respectful relationships, positive self-identity and body safety.
> In Years 7 and 8 Health we explicitly teach decision making, safe choices, conflict management, communication styles (assertive, passive styles) media literacy, bystander, support networks, as well as personal boundaries and personal respect.
> In Years 7 and 8 Wellbeing we look explicitly at values, character and personal identity.
Tier 1 lays the foundations for positive relationships and are explored further in Tier 2 and 3 as we move towards more explicit teaching of gender inequity, power and control in relationships, sexual health, intimacy, including consent.
> Years 4 – 8 – Puberty, Personal Identity and Development Units including personal values, families, the human lifespan including reproduction, changing relationship dynamics and strategies to reduce harm.
> Year 9 – Diversity in relationships is explored, including the changing nature of families, diversity and roles in families, gender stereotypes, gender equality and equity, support networks.
> Years 9 and 10 – Values in relationships, including sexual relationships. Understanding power and control, what the law says, rights and responsibilities, healthy and unhealthy relationships, peer pressure and support networks.
> Child Safety Presentations which occur twice yearly to all Foundation – Year 12 students and staff.
> Foundation – Year 8 – scaffolded ‘No, Stop, Don’t’ programs, personal boundaries, body awareness, support networks and trusted adults.
> Year 9 – Sexual Health including consent and law. Power, different types of control and violence in relationships. Imagery and social media and the impact on relationships.
> Year 10 – Sexual Health including the influence of drugs and alcohol on relationships, safety in relationships, the role of pornography, intimacy, consent and the law.
> Years 11 and 12 – Year level workshops and guest presenters from Family Planning Victoria, Sex Education Australia, Red Frog, Paul Dillon and Victoria Police.
When we look explicitly at consent, our teachers and students take time to explore what consent looks like, what it feels like and what it sounds like. Consent must be:
> Freely given
> And the right to withdraw consent can occur at any stage
Parenting: Respectful Relationships, sex education and consent
As parents, it can be difficult to navigate the discussion around respectful relationships, sex education and consent; however, research shows us that parental voice is an essential part of children feeling supported and safe in their relationships and the notion of “Talk Soon and Talk Often” is key to this.
The Western Australian Government has produced a guide for parents on talking to their children about sex, including age specific conversation starters, expectations and a detailed section on consent (pg. 81). Parents are encouraged to download the resource and to start or continue the conversations at home. The resource can be found here.
Additionally, it is helpful for parents to have an understanding about the law and the age of consent. Youth Law Australia, which can be accessed here, has prepared detailed information for parents and students which has been summarised below:
> It is never okay for a person to have sex with another person who is under 12 years old.
> If you are aged 12-15 years old, you can legally have sex with another person who is less than 2 years older than you (as long as you both actively agree to it).
> Once you turn 16, you can legally have sex with another person who is also aged 16 years or older (as long as you both actively agree to it).
> Also, a person in a position of care or authority eg. a teacher, parent, step-parent, guardian, counsellor, doctor or sports coach cannot have sex with a person aged 16-17 years old under their care.
Please note that Respectful Relationships resources are now located on the CGGS Parent Portal for reference as needed – https://parent.cggs.vic.edu.au and click on the Respectful Relationships icon.
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing