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Victorian Curriculum -

Victorian Curriculum F-10 logo 

Frequently asked questions

How do I go about answering difficult questions?

Answering Difficult Questions (transcript) (docx - 33.32kb)

How do I set up a safe and supportive environment to teach about respectful relationships?

Strategies for teaching sensitive topics- setting the ground rules  (transcript).

How do I use protective interrupting to create a supportive classroom environment?

How do I use protective interrupting to create a supportive classroom environment? (transcript).

How do I ensure that male students feel safe and included when discussing gender based violence as part of respectful relationships education?

Teaching the Health and Physical Education and the Personal and Social Capability curriculum requires teachers to address a range of sensitive content, including respectful relationships. Teaching about gender based violence requires that your teaching critically explores the gendered nature of violence but does not leave male students feeling as though they are all part of the problem or that all males engage in predatory or violent behaviour.

It is important firstly to provide a safe teaching space by setting up agreed group rules which ensure that all students feel comfortable to unpack some of these complex topics without fear or ridicule. (see the FAQ video; Strategies for teaching sensitive topics – setting the ground rules) It is also important to be upfront by acknowledging that this topic might sometimes open up an uncomfortable space for both male and female students. Ask students why they think this is and as a class unpack some of the stereotypes and myths that exist about men's behaviour in intimate relationships. Be very clear to state that most men are not violent however the evidence shows that the vast majority of acts of violence against women and children are committed by men. This is an important distinction to make with students. It also helps to encourage both males and females to see themselves as part of the solution to gender based violence by taking steps to call out sexist behaviour, challenging stereotypes and acknowledging the importance of respect and equality in all relationships.

How do I teach about respectful relationships for students with disabilities and additional needs?

The Victorian Curriculum F-10 describes a continuum of learning and offers flexibility for teachers to tailor their teaching in ways that provide rigorous, relevant and engaging learning and assessment opportunities for students with disabilities and additional needs.

For some students teaching about respectful relationships may just require adjustments to instructional processes, activities and to assessment strategies to enable students to achieve educational standards commensurate with their peers.

For other students, teachers will need to make appropriate adjustments to the complexity of the curriculum content, focusing instruction at a different level to that of their age group. For example a student in year 8 may need to have teaching and learning focused at a lower level of the Victorian Curriculum for example at Level 2 or Level 4.

For a small percentage of students with disabilities and additional learning needs, their learning will be well below the Victorian Curriculum Foundation Achievement Standards. Most of these students have a significant intellectual disability. 'Towards Foundation Level Victorian Curriculum' provides this cohort of students with access to curriculum content and standards that enable students to move toward the learning described at Foundation level. The 'Towards Foundation Level Victorian Curriculum' is integrated directly into the curriculum and is referred to as 'Levels A to D'.  

Whilst there is currently no teaching and learning material developed to support learning about respectful relationships specifically targeted at Levels A to D, activities within the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships teaching and learning resources could be adapted to cater for the individual needs of each student. When adapting teaching and learning materials it is important that they are linked to the individual learning plan for the specific student. For example, a year 6 class is exploring emotional literacy, from Victorian Curriculum F-10 Personal and Social Capability. Students could be completing the same learning experiences but have a different focus, appropriate to their learning needs. So for students working at Level 6, this cohort of students would explore the links between emotions and their behaviour. For students with disabilities working at Level D, they would name emotions and indicate how these might be expressed.

For more advice in regard to curriculum provision and students with disabilities, please see the Students with Disabilities Guidelines(PDF).

Can respectful relationships be taught in curriculum areas other than Health and Physical Education?

Yes. Respectful relationships education draws on content from the Health and Physical Education and Personal and Social Capability areas of the Victorian Curriculum F-10, but can be taught in other curriculum areas. Respectful relationships education works best when utilised in a whole-school approach and across multiple curriculum areas. Schools are encouraged to map their curriculum to see where it fits. For more information on whole school planning see:

Levels F-6 Examples

There are many options for teaching respectful relationships in a primary setting, including:

  • Introduction of concepts in literacy, numeracy, inquiry/integrated studies, science or Physical Education
    • Literacy task: When teaching stress management in Level 5-6, students could be asked to script a role play to plan and practise strategies that promote mental health and wellbeing.
    • Numeracy task: When teaching emotions, students could the emotions they experience in one day.
  • Similar to other wellbeing/social and emotional learning areas respectful relationships education should be taught in any way that suits the cohort of students. Based on the specific focus in literacy, numeracy, inquiry, science or physical education, the topics can be aligned with a particular respectful relationships activity which also helps students to introduce, develop, deploy and demonstrate their learning.

Levels 7-12 Examples

  • English (all levels) – all topic areas of respectful relationships could be addressed according to the themes or texts being taught.
  • Legal studies (9-10 is usually where this appears) – consent/harassment, human rights, violence, sexting etc.
  • Humanities/social studies (all levels) – gender identity, human rights, media influences, sexting etc.
  • History (wherever it appears) – changes in perceptions over time – domestic violence, laws, discrimination, human rights, media and identity
  • Media studies – portrayal of sex/gender in media, influence of the media on society, sexualisation and consent
  • Curriculum may also be delivered through home, form, tutor or pastoral care groups (see Pastoral Care FAQ).

Can respectful relationships be linked to other health topics, such as protective behaviours, sexuality education or preventing bullying?

Yes, many of the concepts, skills and attitudes introduced and developed in respectful relationships are closely related to other areas of health education. A comprehensive respectful relationships program, utilising a whole school approach, provides students with an age and stage appropriate framework that draws on the concepts covered in the Health and PE curriculum. It uses a strengths-based approach and supports the inclusion of topics such as protective behaviours, bullying and sexuality education into program planning.  A respectful relationships program can extend units of work in a variety of health topics, rather than creating separate units for each topic. 

Respectful relationships education aligns with the focus areas of the Health and Physical Education curriculum, including safety, relationships and sexuality, mental health and wellbeing and alcohol and other drugs. When teaching about gender-based violence in secondary schools there are scenarios and activities that incorporate examples of sexualised issues young people may experience. The activities contained in the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships resource have examples and overlap in areas such as consent and coercion, sexual assault and harassment, power structures within relationships and skills for developing healthy relationships.

Mapping the curriculum is important to ensure that there is no overlap or replication in the curriculum across the school and to ensure all content is covered (see Auditing of current programs delivered in schools, such as Bully Stoppers or a sexuality education unit such as puberty, may already have activities that address these areas.

What role does pastoral care play in teaching about respectful relationships?

Pastoral care or equivalent programs (such as wellbeing, home group, learning mentor, tutor) can play an integral role in the delivery of respectful relationships in schools.

The teaching and learning of respectful relationships supports the whole-school approach to creating equal and respectful attitudes, behaviours, structures and practices that permeate the school culture and ethos. Ideally, respectful relationships should be used within a multi-dimensional approach, and not merely within the Health and Physical Education and Personal and Social Capability areas of the Victorian Curriculum F–10. Schools with pastoral care can therefore incorporate the teaching of this into their own programs bringing awareness of the ‘critical incidents’ that our children and adolescents are becoming increasingly exposed to and, furthermore, developing skills to protect themselves.

Pastoral care is not merely a complementary practice; its policy and practices may be fully integrated throughout the teaching, learning and structural organisation of a school. Student behaviour and emotional development is inextricably linked with the learning experience for all students, and is enhanced through school support structures. Thus, pastoral care within schools can significantly contribute to maximising appropriate behaviour and self-awareness, which lends itself to improved learning outcomes for all students.