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ACC announces schools in sexual violence prevention pilot

ACC announces schools in sexual violence prevention pilot

ACC has announced the nine secondary schools and facilitators who will pilot its new sexual and dating violence prevention programme.

Called ‘Mates & Dates’, the programme will be piloted with up to 2000 students during Term 3. The schools and facilitators are:

· Dargaville High School (facilitators are from SOS Kaipara)
· Kelston Girls’ College (Auckland – Rape Prevention Education)
· Kelston Boys’ High School (Auckland – Korowai Tumanako)
· Papakura High School (Korowai Tumanako)
· Makoura College (Masterton – Stopping Violence Services Wairarapa and Compass Health)
· Naenae College (Hutt Valley Youth Health Trust [VIBE])
· Nelson College (Sexual Abuse Support & Healing [SASH – Nelson])
· Nelson College for Girls (SASH – Nelson)
· Otago Boys’ High School (Rape Crisis Dunedin)

“Mates & Dates aims to help to prevent sexual and dating violence by teaching young people healthy relationship skills and behaviours,” says ACC Sexual Violence Prevention Programme Manager, Sandra Dickson.

“The programme will teach students how to have relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent.

“It will help students to identify inappropriate behaviour, and show them how to get help if they, or someone they know, are in an unhealthy relationship. It will also teach them how and when to safely intervene in a situation that could lead to harm.”

Ms Dickson says the programme is relevant to all students, whether or not they are dating. “It covers all kinds of relationships such as friendships and relationships with family and whānau. The programme will help students to think about relationships they already have, as well as dating relationships they might have in the future.”

Research shows that 15-24 year olds are the group most at risk from violence by current and ex-partners. One in five female and one in 10 male secondary school students report unwanted sexual contact or being made to do unwanted sexual things. Of these, 37% describe the unwanted activity as severe, and 57% tell no-one.

Research also shows that working with young people is one of the most effective ways of preventing sexual and dating violence.

“There’s already excellent work being done in and by schools in this area,” says Ms Dickson. “ACC wants to build on and strengthen that work with a multi-year programme based on best practice, which not only increases awareness of sexual and dating violence, but also helps to change behaviour.

“Mates & Dates is based on the best possible research, evidence and experience of what works, both here and overseas.”

The programme uses a range of tools and activities and has been designed to build year-on-year. It’s been developed by a specialist educator, working with an advisory group comprising researchers, academics, government agencies, community sector groups and people who already provide dating and sexual violence prevention programmes in schools. Focus groups were also held with teachers, parents and students.

The pilot will be evaluated by independent researchers and, if successful, it’s hoped it can be turned it into an on-going programme available to all secondary schools.

“It’s a challenging time for teenagers to be growing into adulthood,” says Ms Dickson. “We hope Mates & Dates will give them the skills and tools they need to both make that transition safely and carry with them throughout their lives.”

The Mates & Dates pilot is part of a new three year programme by ACC aimed at preventing sexual and dating violence.

“ACC already plays a key role supporting people dealing with the effects of sexual abuse or assault. We now want to play a greater role in helping to prevent sexual and dating violence and the harms they cause,” Ms Dickson says.

Other prevention initiatives planned include establishing a community coordinator network, developing an evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness of sexual violence prevention programmes, and implementing a social norms campaign.

“We will also continue to contribute to cross-agency efforts to combat sexual violence, explore a new population-based data survey to give us a true picture of the scale and impact of sexual violence in New Zealand, and work to increase the reach of child sexual abuse prevention programmes.”

If you or someone you know needs information or help following sexual assault or abuse, contact ACC's Sensitive Claims Unit confidentially on 0800 735 566. Or see www.toah-nnest.org.nz for information on where to seek help if you have experienced sexual violence or become concerned about harmful sexual behaviour towards others.

ENDS

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