IMAGINE you were tasked with drawing a picture of a person employed in each of the following occupations:
A hairdresser. A geologist. A Senior Sergeant. A nurse. An AFL footballer.
Then you had an opportunity to meet someone working in each field.
Would you have an expectation of the person’s gender, based on their occupation?
Special guests offered Spring Gully Primary School students and community members an insight into their careers as part of an event celebrating the launch of the Respectful Relationships program.
Respectful Relationships aims to prevent family violence by addressing its underlying causes, including gender inequality, gender stereotyping and attitudes accepting of violence.
“This is about teaching our kids to treat everyone with respect and dignity so we can start the cultural change we need in our society to end the scourge of family violence,” Minister for Education, James Merlino, said when the program roll-out was announced.
The program involves a whole-of-school approach, which extends beyond what’s taught in classrooms.
Other components include professional development, school leadership, community partnerships, school culture and environment, and support for staff and students.
Spring Gully Primary School is one of about 120 schools statewide leading the program, which was developed as a result of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Treating everyone with respect and dignity is the focus of Respectful Relationships sessions in primary years, while the relationship between gender and power is explored in secondary years.
Principal Francis Trezise said last week’s event was an opportunity to celebrate the community’s commitment to be respectful.
Parents, carers and special family members were invited to partake in activities, including the drawing task and a special assembly.
Guest speakers included geologist Karen McGowan, hairdresser Rikky Blake, nurse Greg Anderson, Bendigo Senior Sergeant Lisa Johnson and Geelong VFLW footballer Elise Hogan.
In his 20 years of nursing, Mr Anderson said he had seen attitudes towards males in his profession shift.
But Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2011 stated only 10 per cent of nurses in Australia were men.
“It’s not something I think about,” Mr Anderson said.
He felt it was important children knew both males and females were equally capable of doing the job.
Mr Trezise said Respectful Relationships had heightened the staff’s awareness of the subtle ways in which gender stereotypes were part of society, and enabled the school to address them.
One strategy was as simple as ensuring male and female staff had equal roles to play in cooking and preparing a barbecue lunch on the day.
“School is a great place to support students to understand we’re all equal, and we should all have the same opportunities,” Mr Trezise said.
If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.