Greater focus on domestic violence in high school curriculum

Changing culture: Ambarvale High School's head teacher PDHPE Kelly Page (left) and head teacher wellbeing Chantelle Wilson think the new focus on domestic violence in the PDHPE cirriculum is a step in the right direction. Picture: Ashleigh Tullis

Changing culture: Ambarvale High School's head teacher PDHPE Kelly Page (left) and head teacher wellbeing Chantelle Wilson think the new focus on domestic violence in the PDHPE cirriculum is a step in the right direction. Picture: Ashleigh Tullis

After a year of increased discussion around domestic violence, Macarthur high schools will place a greater focus on abuse in the home. 

Domestic violence will be incorporated into the year 7- 10 Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) syllabus in NSW this year.

Ambarvale High School’s PDHPE head teacher Kelly Page said the term ‘domestic violence’ had been made more explicit in the curriculum.

“These changes are an important step in the right direction,” Ms Page said.

“The language around domestic violence has been made more explicit under the changes.

“We already taught students the concept of domestic violence but now we are making it really clear.”

At Ambarvale High School, year 8 students will learn in term two about domestic violence in the relationships unit called ‘relate don’t hate’.

By the end of the unit, students will be able to recognise domestic violence as a form of abuse or neglect.

“We are no longer talking around the issue. Students will learn what kind of actions constitute domestic violence,” Ms Page said.

In year 10, Ambarvale students will learn to recongise and respond to abusive situations within the family and at home.

“Some kids would not recognise violence in the home as abuse but they will learn that kind of action is inappropriate,” Ms Page said.

“All kids are capable of understanding what domestic violence is but we are making it more explicit and we will identify which community services they can turn to.”

Ms Page said PDHPE learning focused on skill-based activities around different scenarios such as how to help a friend who might be experiencing domestic violence, where to seek help and how to communicate.

She said students would also do graffiti boards where they would write down different terms associated with domestic violence or they would have discussions around stereotypes and use Disney characters as examples.

In class, students would also discuss domestic violence prevention campaigns that were circulated on social media or new television advertisements.

The PDHPE department held an information session for parents recently about the changes to the curriculum.

Head teacher wellbeing Chantelle Wilson said the whole school worked together to create a culture in which domestic violence was not tolerated.

Students can talk to teachers, the wellbeing teacher or student support officers, who are trained youth workers officers in the community.

In March, the school holds activities and events around their five values: respect, trust, responsibility, co-operation and excellence.

In the past the school has asked a domestic violence liaison police officer to talk to students about domestic violence and they hold events on White Ribbon Day.

“We are working on changing the culture,” Ms Page said.

“We want students to talk about domestic violence and know where to seek help so if it is occurring then it does not remain a secret.”

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