This week, NSW schools will begin teaching students about how to recognise and respond to domestic violence.
The State Government announced last year that the targeted classes would be introduced to improve community awareness about the issue and its devastating impact.
Students at Mt St Benedict College, located in northern Sydney, recently created a video encouraging those affected by domestic violence to speak out.
Lizzie, a 16-year-old student at the school, said talking about domestic violence in the classroom was a good move.
“It's about making them aware from a young age to know what's going on in their own homes, to recognise it in themselves and friends, their family,” Lizzie told the ABC.
“It will also help in getting rid of stigma around the subject and making it not such a taboo topic to talk about.
“A lot of people step around it really carefully, they don't want to go in too deep, they're a bit scared of what might happen – but you need to get rid of that fear to be able to overcome it and seek help about it.”
Similar programs are being rolled out in Victorian schools to empower young people to recognise domestic violence and protect themselves.
Berwick Lodge Primary School principal, Henry Grossek, told The Educator that his school, located in Melbourne, is an ambassador of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, a national charity protecting children from violence.
“We are active within A&M and this is one way of contributing positively and simultaneously accessing valuable information to inform our joining total school community regarding DV and dealing with it,” he said.
“We have also decided to become school members of White Ribbon organisation - in addition to the same reasons as for joining A&M, the symbolism of joining with these organisations is powerful.”
Grossek also writes on the topic of domestic violence and interviews spokespersons for organisations that address domestic violence on his radio program, Viewpoints.
While classes specifically targeted at domestic violence awareness are being rolled out across NSW and Victoria, there are some who argue that these programs should be made compulsory in all schools nationwide.
However, Grossek cautioned against addressing social issues by imposing compulsory policies and programs on schools, referring to the overload factor.
“How many social issues can schools be expected to take on in meaningful ways, given an already crowded curriculum and accountability requirements?” he said.
“A better approach, I feel, is to provide attractive support packages for schools to choose to take on board. This is a resourcing issue - time and money are at the heart of challenges for schools to take another social issue on board.
“Domestic violence is undoubtedly a major societal issue and as such, governments should put substantially more resources available to schools than they currently do.”