Respect is 365
Nillumbik 16 Days of Activism Case Study
As successful recipients of Nillumbik Shire Council’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence grant program, Our Lady Help of Christian’s (OLHC) Primary School, Eltham, and Sacred Heart Primary School, Diamond Creek, have joined forces to deliver the ‘Respect is 365…’ project.
The project will see students from Prep through to Grade 6 create original artworks responding to the theme, ‘Respect is…’. The artworks will be collated and transformed into a calendar which will be professionally printed and distributed to all families across the two school communities. The project is a collaborative effort between educators Norah Jacombs (OLHC) and Kerry Neilson (Sacred Heart), who recognised the opportunity to create a resource which could prompt conversations about gender and respectful relationships, both at school and at home.
“The reason we have opted for artwork is it’s highly engaging, and demonstrates a child’s understanding of the concept, as well as being something which is in the family home - hopefully displayed somewhere prominent - bringing the conversation into the wider community,” said Norah.
“Being in a same community, it’s important to be having similar conversations across various schools to unite the students together, and have a shared language about what it means to be respectful,” adds Kerry.
An ongoing commitment to Respectful Relationships
Both OLHC and Sacred Heart Primary Schools deliver the Respectful Relationships program, a core component of the Victorian curriculum, which is designed to embed a culture of respect and equality, and strengthen the education workforces’ referral and response to family violence. The program sees Norah and Kerry regularly meet with Department of Education staff, and other local schools and educators delivering the program, to share ideas and resources and provide one another support in responding to concerns.
Sacred Heart Primary School has delivered a number of student-led initiatives as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign over the past five years, including the creation of artwork, developing emotion and family strength cards, and fundraising through a ‘wear orange’ day.
An invitation to join the movement
When asked what advice they would provide to other schools who are yet to engage with the 16 Days of Activism campaign, Norah acknowledges that fear of resistance can be a barrier for schools looking to engage more in conversations and initiatives around gender equality.
“A lot of schools won’t take action in this space, because they anticipate backlash. But actually, what we have found is that we have a very supportive community.”
“We did a video called ‘Call It Out’ where students spoke to camera about what it means to call out disrespectful behaviour… it was one of our most highly engaged with posts. The families and the community loved it.”
Kerry understands the pressure and workload that educators experience, particularly towards the end of the school year, and recommends a collaborative approach.
“Speak to other schools, and work as a group. We halved our workload by working together.”
Norah and Kerry’s hope is that more Nillumbik primary and secondary schools will join the campaign in years to come.
“When the children do come together, outside of school, there will be a shared language, a shared experience and a shared expectation of respect – for everybody.”
Find out more information about Nillumbik's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence grants or email Gender.Equity@nillumbik.vic.gov.au.
Pictured (left to right): Gina Murphy (Deputy Principal - Sacred Heart PS), Kerry Neilson (Foundation Classroom Teacher – Sacred Heart PS) and Norah Jacombs (Student Wellbeing Leader – OLHC PS)