Rural schools help to lead state initiative

01 Mar 2017 Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Samantha Dick TWO local rural primary schools with established emotional learning programs have been selected to help pilot a new State Government initiative aimed at preventing family violence. Springhurst Primary School and Myrrhee Primary School are among 22 schools chosen to lead the Victorian Governments new Respectful Relationships program. The two schools have a proven record of teaching resilience skills and promoting values such as respect and dignity in the classroom. The program stemmed from the Royal Commission into Family Violence and intends to address emotional, cultural and social issues prevalent in Australian society, including gender inequality and domestic violence. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) announced the initiative on Wednesday. All the evidence shows that education is the key to ending the vicious cycle of family violence, which is why teaching Respectful Relationships at school is so important, Ms Symes said. This is about teaching our kids to treat everyone with respect and dignity so we can start the cultural change we need in society to end the scourge of family violence. Springhurst and Myrrhee primary schools have each received a government grant of $20,000 to fund the implementation of the program and to assist with mentoring partner schools in the area. Springhurst principal Wendy Walker said shes really excited about the schools selection as a program leader. Were big on resilience here so its a big part of what we hope to give our kids the skills to be able to cope with whatever comes their way, she said. The whole point is to prevent gender-based violence. Well be working in partnership with the community, hosting forums where people can come together to discuss strategies. Myrrhee principal Ash Graham said he suspected his school was chosen due to its existing social and emotional learning program. We do a lot of work with kids, getting them socially and emotionally prepared for their future so they can deal with obstacles that might be in their way, he said. We recognise theres an issue in our society with domestic violence and gender inequity so we really want to break that cycle through this generation of children. You can know everything about maths and be the perfect speller, but if youre going to be abusive to women then youre not going to be much use to society. Mr Graham said he aims to instil in his students a desire to give back to the community and to be a good role model in society. Were pretty excited about (the Respectful Relationships program) because it formalises what were already doing and its good to know that its being valued by the Education Department of the government, he said. Caption Text: CREATIVE PLAY: Foundation students at Our Ladys Primary School, such as Samantha Bell, are enjoying the wide range of activities and learning experiences they have been recently undertaking at school, in the company of lots of new friends. PHOTO: Emma Hillier Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.