Respectful Relationships is alive at Foster Secondary College where they strive to promote a culture of respect and gender equality every day. Find out what Respectful Relationships looks like at Foster Secondary College from their Wellbeing Team.
1 - Please tell us about your roles at Foster Secondary College (FSC)?
Our roles are both related to supporting the school community to improve health and wellbeing.
As the FSC Wellbeing Team our core business is the wellbeing of the students. Seeing students for any health concerns is the main part of our day. To do this well, it is imperative to have connections with local health resources and platforms for timely referral and support.
We also like to share relevant information directly to our school community. Working with families and our community helps promote social connectedness which helps protect students from adverse health conditions.
School nurses develop a health promotion plan every year and one of the priority areas for this is “safe environment”. The Respectful Relationships program therefore works well within the context of a whole school approach to ensure school community and cultural changes can be included in an educational framework and aspects of the RR program will be applied achieving this goal.
2 - What does Respectful Relationships look like at Foster Secondary College? What impact is it having?
There are aspects of the program interwoven throughout the curriculum, and our school have had various student RR works on display at our front office, and within the school newsletter.
For instance, sexual health education programs in year 10 have various activities pertaining to respectful relationship program principles in the group activities undertaken. A major activity is “real world versus media world” where students are asked to discern between what healthy intimate relationships consist of. Other activities might include exploring the laws around the age of consent.
Last year we were lucky to partner with Family Planning Victoria to upskill staff in sexual health education, which has its positive continual flow on effects.
A huge highlight for our school this year was the community participation in International Women’s Day; Girls of Our Town event in March held at FSC, recognising historical and contemporary women of the Corner Inlet area who have made a difference for the community.
FSC has also taken up and promoted any materials provided regarding the 16 days of activism.
The Respectful Relationships program goes beyond curriculum to what is modelled within the school community.
I would like to make comment of the recent wellbeing day activities and particularly the staff video, designed to create a laugh for the students by showing the students we are all individuals who yearn for equality and safety for ourselves and our school community.
The impact of the RR program supports a constant respectful hum that rings throughout the school community.
3 - How do you challenge gender stereotypes at Foster Secondary College?
By ensuring equal gender representation in staff and student group activities.
By calling out inappropriate communication (just like is appropriate at home or in the community)
By encouraging students to know themselves, trust themselves and their ability to overcome any gender bias in their chosen field of study or work.
By building strength and knowledge in students to speak up for themselves.
By celebrating IDAHOBIT DAY 2019 with fun and engaging whole school activities, including a respectful pledge. It was unable to be celebrated this year.
Adding to this at the Wellbeing Team level, if any matters concerning abuse of power, inequality or a threat to safety come to us, we are swift to explore and manage appropriately. Any form of violence, gendered or not, is unacceptable.
4 - What does student voice look like?
Young people are smart and gifted with knowing many layers of the world in which we live.
At FSC, students are encouraged to have their voice heard through the student leadership group and the student representative council. A separate group, the Youth Health Advocacy group meet periodically to discuss local health trends and issues.
Ultimately, building healthy school relationships allows students to be able to speak up via any medium to influence respectful relationships. For example, providing opportunities for students to speak at school assemblies and events.
5 - Do you have any advice, tips or learnings from working in the Respectful Relationships space you would like to share with other teachers?
Anna found it useful to attend Building Respectful Relationships: stepping out against gender-based violence PD for secondary staff and partake in the activities. One stand-out activity was about social privilege.
Nicky notes through working in partnerships with community groups and organisations, like we did with the International Women’s Day event was empowering and meaningful. It emphasised and held the importance of the RR message, both within the school setting and wider community. The ripple of the RR message was strong that day.
Both of us have found it really useful to partner with the South Coast PCP. In the past, Rachel has helped us to create a 16 Days of Activism social media campaign, connected us to learning and professional development and has supplied us with health and wellbeing resources.