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The Nationals WA Candidate for Kalgoorlie Tony Crook has put his support behind a proposal which would see the evidence-based Respectful Relationship Education Toolkit (RRE Toolkit), established by Our Watch, rolled out into every school throughout the Goldfields.
Mr Crook said the program would provide a framework and support for the students and teachers in dealing with issues surrounding domestic violence in families and promoting respectful relationships in schools and in the wider community.
“The Respectful Relationship Toolkit is aimed at breaking the cycle of domestic violence, and ensuring that students grow into adults who can have relationships that are safe, respectful and equal,” Mr Crook said.
“It teaches students the skills to build respectful relationships and is aimed at creating a safe, equal and inclusive school culture for staff and students.”
Mr Crook said he supported the program being trialed in the Goldfields given the communities recent challenges, including intimidating and violent conduct to students and staff and damage of school property.
“Feeling safe and being treated with respect - whether you’re a male or female student or staff member – is something we should strive for in our school and in our community,” Mr Crook said.
“It’s my view that Kalgoorlie could benefit from a program such as this and I’d like to see it trialed across the Goldfields. If successful WA could look at expanding it across the State in a similar fashion to the Victorian Government.”
Evidence suggests that violence prevention and respectful relationship initiatives among young people can deliver lasting change in attitudes and behaviours.
“In Victoria, schools who participated in the program demonstrated improvements in awareness, attitudes, behaviour and language of both staff and students,” Mr Crook said.
The Victorian Government recently piloted this program in 19 schools and has since announced $21.8 million in funding to deliver the program to every school in Victoria in 2016 and 2017.
Mr Crook said it was important the State Government provide additional funding and resources to deliver the RRE Toolkit program in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“Our wonderful teachers in Kalgoorlie-Boulder are doing a great job, but they are stretched thin. I don’t want to see the State Government say: yes this is a great idea, we want schools to incorporate it, but we don’t want to put up any money,” Mr Crook said.
“If the project can deliver benefits to Kalgoorlie - and I believe it can - I would hope the State Government could find the ability to supply professional teachers and the resources to implement the Respectful Relationships Toolkit into our schools.”
Mr Crook said he intended to raise the issue with his National party colleagues and State Government Ministers to seek support.
“The Goldfields community, like many communities across Australia, is in crisis when it comes to domestic violence and respect. At this stage I don’t know that this program will be a silver bullet for our community. However, it’s an important step towards addressing these issues,” Mr Crook said.
“Speaking with community members, this is something we want to see funded and being delivered as soon as possible.”