Our programs are designed to be incorporated into a whole of school approach to violence prevention. This holistic approach recognises that changes to beliefs and attitudes are necessary to address the prevalence of gender-based violence in Australia, and that education plays an important role in this. Research demonstrates that school-based efforts to address gender-based violence are vital. This involves material being incorporated into the curriculum, delivered across multiple subject areas, and in different formats. It also involves a comprehensive approach by teachers, parents and school staff to create a supportive environment that addresses and promotes respectful and non-violent relationships.
Undercurrent partners with schools to deliver programs that can be incorporated into a whole-school approach. Our workshops complement the Victorian Respectful Relationships Curriculum and have particular focus on exploring the ‘gender and identity’ and ‘positive gender relationships’ elements of the respectful relationships curriculum.
We also offer workshops for teachers on violence prevention: see our Professional Development section for more information.
Our Secondary Schools program is available for students from years 7 to 12. Research shows that education programs are more effective in changing attitudes, beliefs and behaviours when they run for multiple sessions. Our facilitators also prefer multiple session workshops as they give space for students to develop deeper critical thinking skills, and students enjoy the opportunity to talk in depth about the topic areas. We recognise that it can be hard to find time to incorporate multiple workshops into the school curriculum and we are able to adapt our workshops to fit into the time you have available. At minimum, our one-off workshops run for 90 minutes. Multi session workshops run for a minimum of 60 minutes per session. We design workshops to respond to the needs of individual schools and the young people who will be participating. We take into account the length of the workshops and the age of participants and will build on related content that teachers or the school may have already covered.
Facilitators present information for discussion and run a series of interactive activities with the aim of enabling young people to use their own experiences to explore the complexities surrounding violence, sex and relationships. Undercurrent workshops can be useful in introducing ideas that students often appreciate discussing with people from outside the school context. The program uses a peer education model, with facilitators aged between 18 and 35.
In most contexts we run separate workshops for young men and young women.
The young women’s workshops are run by women and non-binary people as peer-educators, to help young women to feel safe and comfortable. The young men’s workshops are generally run by a mix of men, women and non-binary peer-educators. A teacher is required to be present in each room, with no male teachers in the young women’s workshops.
We acknowledge that many young people are trans or non-binary, and may not feel that workshops which are separated into young women’s and young men’s are appropriate for them. We offer workshops for young people who are LGBTIQ+, which we can run at the same time or at another venue and date. We are happy to discuss with you the most appropriate structure for your school.
Feedback is collected from students and teachers after each workshop to allow us to continue developing and updating workshop activities. We will send a copy of the feedback to schools after all the workshops are completed.
YOUNG MEN’S WORKSHOP PROGRAM
The focus of the young men’s workshop program is on challenging beliefs, attitudes and behaviours which enable violence, learning respectful relationship skills, and developing support skills. We acknowledge that many young men have experienced violence, including sexual violence, whilst also acknowledging that the main perpetrators of family violence and sexual assault are men.
YOUNG WOMEN’S PROGRAM
Violence against women is one of the most prevalent, yet least noticed forms of violence in the world. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey in 2006: of women assaulted in a 12 month period in Australia, 30.6% of women were assaulted by a current or former partner, and 36.8% by a family member or friend. As relationship violence and sexual assault are such widespread concerns for women in Australia, the focus of the women’s peer education program is on recognising and responding to violence, education about the rights of women, empowerment, and support.
TOPICS OUR WORKSHOPS CAN COVER:
In all workshops, the topics we can cover depend on the time and number of sessions available, and are suited to the age of the students. We work with teachers and schools to ensure topics presented are those most relevant to your needs. If your school is experiencing a particular problem or would like a workshop tailored to a specific issue, we can design unique workshops to meet the needs of your students. Our facilitators have experience organising and running a variety of workshops designed in response to particular issues, for example: on bullying and sexuality with a focus on lesbian, gay, queer, and trans issues; on addressing group bullying following disclosures of violence in a school; and on peer pressure and consent in response to students’ disclosures to a teacher about their experiences at parties.
What is family violence and sexual assault? A discussion on the different forms/types of violence
Causes or contributors to family violence and challenging violence enabling attitudes
Myths about violence against women
What does a respectful relationship look like?
Relationships, gender, sex and pop culture—how does the media create myths and harmful attitudes about gender, relationships and sex?
Violence in LGBTIQ+ relationships
Exploring what young women think it means to be a woman, their limits and possibilities
Exploring what young men think it means to be a man, limitations, possibilities, and challenging gender stereotypes
Challenging rigid gender binaries and roles
Non-violent communication skills and conflict avoidance
Bullying and social violence, including racism and homophobia
Supporting a friend who has experienced violence
Sexual harassment and attitudes towards women in the community, at school and in the media
Recognising and responding to situations of violence or intimidation
Where to seek help: resources for those who have experienced or are experiencing violence
Power and control in both friendships and intimate partner relationships
Empowerment and self-respect
Multi-session workshops are designed to cover topics from both our respectful relationships and sex education programs.
SEX EDUCATION PROGRAM
Undercurrent facilitates sex education workshops that aim to fill the gaps in contemporary sex education. The program features interactive activities to engage students and get them thinking critically about where their pre-existing knowledge about sex comes from. The workshops seek to not only provide accurate information, but also to nurture positive and self-affirming attitudes toward sex. Topics covered include consent and sexual coercion, attitudes and understandings of what sex is and means, sexual health, queer, Lesbian, Gay and other sexualities, body image, and positive and respectful sexual relationships. The program operates within a feminist framework, and above all stresses students’ sexual autonomy and challenging rigid gender expectations.
Our programs are run by facilitators with a variety of different life experiences who students can often relate to. Students often acknowledge feeling more able to have honest and involved discussions around sex, consent and sexual health and to ask questions they may not always feel comfortable asking. We aim to give students the tools to explore their own ideas in a positive and non-judgemental space. The program aims to demystify sex without devitalising it, and ultimately to empower students to approach their sex lives with knowledge and agency.
Content around sex education can be covered in a dedicated workshop or incorporated into our usual secondary schools programs. Get in touch if you would like us to tailor a workshop to the needs of your school and the young people who will be participating. We take into account the length of the workshops and the age of participants and will build on related content that teachers or the school may have already covered.
Some of the topics and exercises that we can cover in sex education workshops include:
What is sex? Where do we learn about sex? Attitudes around sex and sexuality
Relationships with sex, body image and popular culture, what doesn't porn show you
Positive sexual relationships and boundaries
Sex and communication
Consent: realities, challenges, and empowerment in sexual decision making and respectful sexual choices
Resources and support services
Feedback we have received from secondary school students:
“Promoted positive conversation about some things that aren’t normally talked about”
“Taught me how to respond to someone who’s experienced sexual assault”
“Helped me think a lot about my past and what’s going on in my life”
“Informed me about different strategies and opened my eyes about different issues”
“Helped me understand and change the way I approached things”
In the workshop I found useful…
“I learnt what consent is and what to do in bad situations”
“I learned a few things about sexual health”
“Being able to have this discussion and have better understanding about this and sharing opinions”
“I feel like I related to this from personal experience and it helped us understand other opinions”
“I had the opportunity to ask the awkward questions in a more comfortable environment”
“I learnt how to support people who have experienced violence”
“Just talking about sex openly and normalising it”
“It showed me it’s okay to speak up when getting bullied”
“I became more aware of the types of violence and how frequent it is”
“Gaining the confidence to speak more”
“The discussion on consent and understanding and how it further affects LGBTQIA people”
Our workshops for secondary schools are free or by donation.