In recent years, schools around Australia have begun to teach young people about how to recognise and respond to domestic violence.
The success from government initiatives, such as Stop It At The Start and White Ribbon Day, sparked a national conversation about recognising disrespectful behaviour before it manifests into physical violence.
As a result, these primary prevention methods have allowed educators to break through the ‘tabooed’ topic of domestic violence by encouraging open dialogue between government, families, youth and communities.
The education system has been a main driver for instigating such change. However, principals and teachers can only do so much to mitigate the insidious nature of abusive behaviour, which remains unacceptably high within Australian culture today.
Carol Richardson, project officer for Western Sydney University’s Fast Forward program, emphasises the importance of raising awareness about the issue to students in schools.
“They can then recognise that it is not normal and maybe tell a teacher,” Richardson said.
“While the education sector plays a key role in primary prevention methods through educational programs, the lines between generating discussion and providing professional support become blurred.”
Richardson stresses that school teachers do not have adequate resources to discuss domestic violence in schools.
“They [teachers] need help from experts. There was a teacher on Q&A talking about how she had to help kids from dreadful homes and how ill-equipped she was…and how that was not her job,” Richardson said.
“Teachers also run out of time, so something needs to give.”
The conundrum, says Richardson, is that Australia’s education system is a primary influencer in shaping attitudes and behaviour on domestic violence, yet it is running on little time and scarce resources.
However, Richardson pointed out that this can also opens avenues for collaboration with businesses, local governments and community members who can help provide teachers with adequate means.
In response to this situation, law firm, Coode & Corry Solicitors recently launched its No Respect, No Relationship campaign.
Pioneered by the firm’s solicitor, Janis Donnelly-Coode, the campaign aims to raise awareness about addressing domestic violence at its very core: that is, recognising disrespectful behaviour from the start and learning that it is not okay.
After several initial discussions about the topic, Donnelly-Coode soon realised the how helpful this information was to young people.
“The teenagers went home and told their parents how much they had learned about the importance of respectful relationships, that they had no idea that domestic violence occurred at that rate [1/3] or could happen to educated people from good homes,” Donnelly-Coode said.
As a result, Donnelly-Coode holds regular seminars for local schools and universities. All seminars are tailored to fit with the school curriculum and are delivered to suit students’ age-specific needs.
Coode & Corry has been successfully running these free educational seminars for over five years. The firm also offers seminars exclusive to teachers, which cover a range of topics such as:
- How to navigate compliancy requirements
- What to do about difficult parents/family law
- Managing potentially litigious matters around social media usage
- Staff who break the law and how to manage this