Students seek deeper understanding

McAuley Community Services for Women continues to play a major role in supporting Victorian secondary school students develop some understanding of the complexities around family violence and the aftermath faced by those involved.

Some of the students who attend presentations by our community engagement worker, Kaillee Dyke and other staff members, may have encountered family violence, but have not shared the experiences with other students. For many students it is new information and they are keen to know how they can be part of the solution.

Many schools are committed to awareness raising and fund raising, with staff and students participating in McAuley Community Services for Women events. Our experience shows that the deeper the students’ understanding of the issues, the greater their commitment to support services for women and children escaping family violence.

During a presentation, and depending on time and the needs of the school, the following issues are covered, followed by a Q & A::

  • what family violence looks like on a national level
  • the link between homelessness and family violence
  • homelessness experienced through the eyes of women and child/how it differs from men’s experiences
  • different aspects of family violence – physical, emotional and mental
  • what McAuley Community Services for Women provides for women who are homeless or who are escaping family violence
  • how the students can help through fundraising, raising awareness or other activities
  • how to respond if someone tells you they are living with family violence.

“Boys and girls are very engaged in the issues around family violence. There is a lot of publicity and media exposure of family violence and many cases are played out in graphic detail on the television, but the talks we give also try to tackle some of the complexities involved,” Kaillee said.

“The presentations are not about us just talking and students listening. They really want to find out more and try to understand how family violence happens. For so many adults, as well as young people, the thought of someone in the family hurting another member is really confusing and confronting.”

“So often we will give a talk and the students will raise a lot of different issues, and we do our best, where appropriate, to respond.”

In recent weeks presentations have been given at St Aloysius’ College, North Melbourne, Padua College, Mornington, Mercy College, Coburg, Bialik College, Hawthorn East, Loyola College, Watsonia and Sacred Heart in Geelong.

During these presentations the following issues were raised by students across the schools:

  • the typical journey of a McAuley House resident. How did the women end up homeless
  • how perpetrators of family violence are held to account
  • what were the perpetrators controlling behaviours that lead the women to leave
  • what other gender appropriate housing is there available for women experiencing homelessness
  • similarities of bullying and family violence and the controlling behaviours involved
  • suggestion of how to stand up to bullies and people who have controlling behaviours
  • what should a respectful relationship look like
  • how courts facilitate Intervention Orders
  • what free legal services are available to help people escaping family violence
  • what disrespectful v’s respectful relationships look like
  • the rights of the perpetrator
  • services available to men experiencing family violence
  • access to the children after family violence.

We are grateful for the ongoing support from many schools who support our regular appeals or create a new events, including staff at St Kevin's College who ran a morning tea in June as part of our High Tea Appeal.

Invite McAuley Community Services for Women to speak at your school.