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The evidence for respectful relationships education

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Evidence shows that gender inequality is a key driver of gender-based violence. That’s why respectful relationships education is all about engaging in respectful and equal relationships and promoting gender equality.

Internationally, research has demonstrated that school-based prevention initiatives can reduce the likelihood that students will go on to experience or perpetrate violence in the future.

Evaluations have also shown that respectful relationships education has the potential to shift the gendered drivers of violence.

Piloting of curriculum and testing of the whole of school approach has been undertaken in primary and secondary schools in Australia.

Evaluations of the whole-of-school approach in primary and secondary schools in Australia have shown the potential for respectful relationships education to challenge gender stereotypes, develop a culture of equality among staff and students and support attitude change among students.

Benefits of respectful relationships education

Implementing respectful relationships eaducation in your school can achieve the following.

Increases in:

  • Students’ knowledge of, attitudes towards, and confidence in discussing issues of domestic violence, gender equality and respectful relationships.
  • Teachers’ understanding of the importance of respectful relationships education.
  • School level commitments to respectful relationships, apparent through development of staff gender equality and respectful relationships policies and procedures, for example:
    • positive student classroom behaviour
    • positive student-student and teacher-student relationships.

Decreases in:

  • Students’ adherence to gender stereotypes. Rigid gender stereotypes can be harmful and limiting, affecting students’ interactions with each other and their participation in life.

Core elements for respectful relationships education in Australia

A review of international and national evidence on respectful relationships education summarised seven core elements for best practice approaches to the work. Many of these elements of best practice are not the sole responsibility of individual schools, but need the support of national, state and territory governments. These elements are detailed further in this respectful relationships education evidence paper.

Diagram showing icons that illustrate each of the 7 elements of best practice implementation in respectful relationships education. Each icon has a yellow circle behind it and is drawn in thick black line. A description in words is beneath each icon.