Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Schools to Help Students Say ‘NO’ to Domestic Violence

The confronting real-life story of teenage domestic violence victim Angela Barker is the centrepiece of the Australian Government’s innovative new education pack being delivered to every Australian secondary school.

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, Senator Kay Patterson, said Angela’s tragic story was a powerful feature of the schools kit for years 11 and 12 students, which tackles the issue of relationship abuse in Australia.

‘Angela was left brain damaged after a severe bashing by her former boyfriend in 2002 during which she was kicked in the ribs and face and had her head bashed against a metal park bench. She was just 16 years old at the time,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘Angela’s story is dramatically captured in a documentary supplied in the kit which is supported by lesson plans and teaching aids aimed at educating young Australians on how to maintain healthy relationships and avoid being exposed to abusive behaviour.

‘A recent report estimated the cost of domestic violence to the Australian community is $8 billion a year. Our school kit is an important new preventative measure in an ongoing campaign by the Australian Government to combat domestic violence.

‘Research shows that young people are most at risk, and that harm experienced early in life has the potential to influence future relationships. The prevention and early intervention approach taken in this schools kit is an effective and appropriate way to reduce the unacceptably high rates of relationship violence and sexual assault.’

The schools kit, launched by Senator Patterson at Princes Hill Secondary College in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton, is part of the Australian Government’s $20 million national campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault – Violence Against Women. Australia Says NO.

‘We have seen an overwhelming response to the campaign since it began in June with more than 35,000 calls being made to the National Helpline counselling and referral service. Thousands of women have already been helped by this campaign,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The National Helpline has been important in providing support to those experiencing violence. Through this schools kit, we are now targeting the next generation, with the aim of reducing the number of Australians exposed to violence in the first place.’

The National Helpline Number is 1800 200 526.