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South West schools urged to make up shortfall in uptake of ‘respectful relationships’ training

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Education Minister Tony Buti.
Camera IconEducation Minister Tony Buti. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

Although just two South West schools have signed up for a State Government program to combat family violence through education, it is hoped a new funding lifeline will lead to more schools taking it up.

Education Minister Tony Buti last week announced a $1.5 million boost for independent and Catholic schools to sign up for the Respectful Relationships program, run by provider Starick, involving school-level intervention on family violence through a focus on gender equality and the perceived contribution of “toxic” behaviour among teenage boys.

While the program was already running, the minister’s office said it could not disclose the two South West schools participating.

About 81 Perth schools have incorporated the program so far.

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“Schools play an important role in helping children and young people develop positive and respectful relationships,” Mr Buti said.

“Because of this, our Government has mandated the delivery of consent and healthy relationship education as part of the WA curriculum and provided schools with access to a range of programs and resources to do this.

“Further to this, we have committed to providing an evidence-based Respectful Relationships pilot program suitable for delivery in WA public schools.”

Interested schools in the South West have been encouraged to take part.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam declined to comment on the lack of regional uptake, but said early intervention was important given the rise in family violence.

The Times understands the program trains teachers in how to embed the lessons of Respectful Relationships in the classroom.

Starick chief executive Leanne Barron said schools played a critical role in children’s lives and needed to be part of the “whole-of-community response” to preventing family and domestic violence.

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