Blakehurst Public School is located in a southern Sydney suburb. The primary school recognised that the White Ribbon program offered the opportunity to explore respectful behaviours with students through a range of practical activities.
The principal facilitated a meeting with staff to inform them about the White Ribbon program. He presented 10 important facts about violence against women. A large white ribbon was posted on a wall in the staff room; teachers were invited to document their suggestions and discussions continued over the two subsequent staff meetings. Activities for White Ribbon Day, and ideas for introducing a culture of respect in the school community, were identified using this process.
Students were invited to participate in an art project for White Ribbon Day by developing personalised messages about respectful behaviour. Three hundred and eighty students traced the shape of their hand on paper, cut out the shape and then wrote messages of respect on their hands. The project provided students with the opportunity to think about what respectful behaviour meant to them. The hands were displayed in the school hall for a month as a visual reminder and the messages were then documented in a list that was distributed to students. The students were also invited to participate in making a mural in the school playground that is on display all year as a reminder of the importance of respectful behaviour.
Parents and carers
The principal wrote an article in the school newsletter about the White Ribbon program and why it was being introduced to the school. Regular updates continued to be posted in the school newsletter throughout the year. The newsletters acknowledged that some parents and carers may experience discomfort talking about violence against women but affirmed the importance of having these conversations. The principal also addressed the Parents and Carers group and the School Council.
The principal wanted to specifically address the men in the school community, so he sent a personalised letter in a sealed envelope to 320 male parents, grandparents and carers. The letter took a personal approach; the principal talked about his own position as a father with three daughters and his belief in prevention. He described the activities the school would be undertaking, gave information on the White Ribbon Foundation website and urged men to embrace the White Ribbon principles. The bottom of each letter included a tear-off slip inviting men to take the campaign oath not to be violent or remain silent about violence against women.
As a result of the program, conversations about respectful relationships continue in the school community, in classrooms, among staff members and with parents and carers. At the end of 2010 the principal who introduced the program retired and the new principal reports that he intends to continue White Ribbon activities in the future.