White Ribbon Australia’s Breaking the Silence Schools program rolled out to record number of schools
The largest ever number of primary and secondary schools, a total of 115, have just completed White Ribbon Australia’s Breaking the Silence respectful relationships program.
The award-winning professional development program is a course adapted for primary and secondary schools which provides teachers with foundational knowledge, tools and strategies to ensure cultures of respect and gender equality in schools and to work with the next generation to stop men’s violence against women before it starts.
White Ribbon Australia, CEO, Libby Davies said: “We work to examine the root causes of gender-based violence, challenge behaviours, and create a cultural shift that leads us to a future without men’s violence against women.”
The program uses a mix of face-to-face workshops, eLearning and ongoing mentoring and support to enable schools to embed respectful relationships across curriculum, policies, procedures and school culture.
Amber Hitchcock of Lakemba Public School in NSW said the school saw it as an opportunity to lead a culture shift in their own community.
“We developed a K-6 program for all teachers to use in their classrooms. We also had a range of activities incorporated, including high school partnerships with our Stage 3 students working with two local high schools on White Ribbon workshops,” she said.
“We have witnessed a difference in the students’ attitude towards gender stereotypes. There is no longer the need to play boys vs girls games as the students are aware that everyone is equal. The students have also shifted the language they are using and are more conscious of the way they speak to others.”
Gai Beecher, Principal of Amaroo School in ACT, agrees that Breaking the Silence gave them a powerful platform to address negative gendered language and power imbalance in relationships with our students and staff.
“It has been great to see students and staff develop their awareness of some of the negative impacts of gender stereotypes and how this can influence our attitudes and beliefs. I believe that continued work, started through this initiative will support the school in addressing barriers for girls and boys in their social and educational lives. It will also provide us with opportunities to work through challenges together as a school community and allow our students to be respectful, confident and successful now and in the future,” Ms Beecher said.
Breaking the Silence, has reached more than 314,000 students and 23,800 teachers in over 560 schools, since the program began in 2009. It supports State and Federal education policies around healthy relationships, social and emotional well-being, and primary prevention of violence in school settings.
Breaking the Silence is provided to schools free-of-charge through White Ribbon Australia’s donors, including Myer, Harcourts, Suzanne Grae, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and other individual supporters.
White Ribbon Australia has opened registrations and are now accepting Expressions of Interest for the 2018 Breaking the Silence program.
More information: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/breaking-silence-program/