New domestic violence education program may 'alienate men'
A NEW domestic violence education program that might "alienate men" is now available for use in every Australian school.
Our Watch, the national bi-partisan organisation charged with reducing violence against women, created the Respectful Relationships Education Toolkit when it was piloted in 19 Victorian secondary schools last year.
Deakin and La Trobe universities evaluated the program that helps children and young people learn how to "reject" unhealthy aggressive behaviour and gender discrimination while challenging stereotypes that underlie toxic masculinity.
The program helps children and young people learn how to "reject" unhealthy aggressive behaviour and discrimination and challenge gender stereotypes.
The experts found the program delivered clear improvements in students' attitudes towards violence, equality and respectful relationships.
"Education is key to preventing violence against women," Our Watch Chief CEO Mary Barry said when launching the program this week.
"Victoria is leading Australia in its commitment to comprehensive respectful relationships education.
"We hope every other state and territory government will follow suit.
"This is essential if we are to achieve the generational change needed to end violence against women and their children."
The Victorian Government will spend $21.8 million embedding it into that state's school curriculums.
There is no indication that the program will be made mandatory in NSW, Queensland or other states and territories.
Fifty-two women have died as a resulted of alleged male violence this year.
Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety statistics show that one in three Australian women will experience emotional, physical or sexual violence in their lives and the primary perpetrators are male.
While there is no doubt men are also victims of domestic and family violence, research shows the primary abusers in many of these cases are male.
Price Waterhouse Coopers released a report last year saying that mandatory respectful relationships classes could result in 7000 to 12,000 less incidents of violence against women, saving the economy up to $3.6 billion.
Centre for Independent Studies senior research fellow Jeremy Sammut slammed the Respectful Relationships Education Toolkit, describing it as "taxpayer-funded indoctrination" of children.
"The idea behind this program - that all men are latent abusers by nature of the discourse - is an idea that only cloistered feminist academics could love," Dr Sammut told The Australian.
"A lot of evidence suggests that like child abuse, domestic violence is a byproduct of social dysfunction - welfare, drugs, family breakdown."
Australian Catholic University researcher Kevin Donnelly said the subject lacked objectivity and it was not balanced.
"There's no doubt that women are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence and more needs to be done," Dr Donnelly said.
"The royal commission found that 25% of victims of family violence are men and there's little, if anything, in there that acknowledges the impact of violence on men and young boys."
*For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
- ARM NEWSDESK