ACC commits $18.4m to healthy relationships education in schools, tender open

Image: David Larivière on Unsplash

ACC has committed $18.4 million to making the Mates & Dates healthy relationships programme available in more schools nationwide.

Mates & Dates is a healthy relationship programme for secondary school students in years 9 to 13, delivered over five years. The programme aims to prevent sexual and dating violence by teaching young people the knowledge and skills to engage in safe, healthy and respectful relationships. The sessions explore human sexuality, relationships, gender and identity. They discuss consent, healthy relationships and behaviours, and encourage critical engagement with stereotypes and media. Sessions are delivered by independent sexual violence experts in a school setting. Students receive 5 sessions each year, so a total of 25 sessions. The Mates and Dates website provides further information.

The programme was piloted in 2014. Since then more than 37,500 students in 130 schools have received education through the programme.

The Mates & Dates programme has been available to schools around the country on a voluntary basis. In 2017, media reported 23% of schools had taken up the programme, leading to renewed calls by students and others to make violence prevention education mandatory.

ACC is increasing funding to expand delivery. Providers can register their interest in receiving funding to deliver Mates & Dates through GETS (Government Electronic Tenders Service). Current providers need to reapply. The deadline is 12 September 2018. For questions about the tender, contact procurement@acc.co.nz.

Following ACC'S announcement, some sexual health organisations and academics criticised using specialist external providers to deliver the training instead of teachers (see media links below for more information) and the suitability of the programme for all students including Māori. ACC has provided further information about expanding the programme, including a response to these concerns:

"We agree with recent feedback that teachers need professional development and support in this area, and we are keen to explore this further. Both teachers and students liked having external facilitators with expertise in sexual and dating violence. They brought a different perspective and some students said they were more comfortable talking about sensitive topics. Teachers found it useful sitting in on sessions to monitor the class and help facilitate the discussions if needed. Some teachers would be effective facilitators of the programme but we need to ensure they have sufficient support to deal with sensitive issues like disclosures.

We plan to continue with the current delivery model, while an independent evaluation is conducted by the Ministry of Education of all government-funded healthy relationship programmes currently available. This evaluation will include whether programmes are aligned to the New Zealand curriculum and Sexuality Education Guidelines. It will assess whether they meet the needs of specific cohorts, including ethnicity, LGBTQI+ communities, and people with disabilities. It will also assess whether it is suitable to be scaled, and what support the programme provides for teachers for sensitive issues like disclosures. Co-facilitation with teachers needs to be tested before we adjust the current delivery model."

The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network (SAPN) currently delivers the Mates & Dates programme in Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti. SAPN General Manager Fiona McNamara wrote an article on the value of specialist services collaborating with schools and that secondary students have said they want outside providers to deliver the programme, with their teachers in the room supporting it.

Related information

ACC has released Report on the 2016 Mates & Dates Survey - April 2017 (PDF 1.4 MB) (Synergia, 2017)

Media has reported that ACC has experienced an 88% increased demand in funding for counselling services over the last five years, thought to be influenced by changes in ACC services and public awareness such as the #metoo movement. This equates to 21 claims a day. In the 2017/18 financial year, ACC's total spend on sensitive claims was $129.8 million. Of this, $26.2 million was for young people aged 14 to 24.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification recently launched the research project Youth and Porn: how and why young New Zealanders are viewing pornography.

Background information

Sexuality, relationships and violence prevention education come under Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (2007). However schools are free to decide how they teach it, after consultation with their school community, which they must carry out every two years. Students and violence prevention advocates have called for mandatory consent education, including a student led march on Parliament in March 2017.

In 2015, the Ministry of Education released revised guidelines, Sexuality education: a guide for principals, boards of trustees, and teachers.

The Education Review Office (ERO) is currently auditing how sexuality education is taught in schools.

For more information about the development of the Mates & Dates programme, see our previous news stories:

New schools-based healthy relationships programme announced by ACC

ACC announces schools to pilot 'Mates & Dates'

ACC releases evaluation summary from Mates and Dates pilot

Related research

Indigenous (Māori) sexual health psychologies in New Zealand: Delivering culturally congruent sexuality education
by Le Grice, Jade | Braun, Virginia.
Journal of Health Psychology, 2017, Advance online publication, 13 December 2017

What do young people think about their school-based sex and relationship education?: A qualitative synthesis of young people's views and experiences
Pound, Pandora. | Langford, Rebecca | Campbell, Rona
BMJ Open, 2016, 6:e011329 (Open access)

'Hooked up': Te hononga whaiāipo: Reducing and preventing violence in taitamariki Māori intimate partner relationships
Eruera, Moana, 2015

Respectful relationships education in schools: Evidence paper
by Gleeson, Cara | Kearney, Sarah | Leung, Loksen | Brislane, Joanna.
Melbourne, Vic: Our Watch, 2015

The case for addressing gender and power in sexuality and HIV education: A comprehensive review of evaluation studies.
Haberland, N.A.
International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2015, 41(1), 31-42. doi:10.1363/410315
See also summary and discussion by PreventConnect

Effectiveness of relationship education programmes in schools for years 7-13: A rapid literature review prepared for Families Commission
Ball, Judith
Research report, no. 2/13, September 2013
Wellington: Superu

Preventing sexual violence: A stocktake of Tauiwi & bicultural primary prevention activities
Dickson, Sandra, Tauiwi Caucus of TOAH-NNEST, 2013

Recently launched resources and services

Te Whāriki Takapou launched two new resources, Te Aitanga a Tiki: Māori dimensions of sexuality, an online collection of te reo Māori and English language resources related to sexual and reproductive health, and a resource guide for Te Ira Tangata, a sexuality education programme for kura kaupapa Māori.

Safe to talk: He pai ki te kōrero is a national helpline for people affected by 'sexual harm' and sexual violence. It provides 24/7 access to free and confidential information and support by phone, text, email or online chat. The helpline was launched earlier this year.

Also see the earlier resources we compiled in 2015 on promoting healthy relationships with young people following "Roast Busters."

Selected and related media

Teacher sexually harassed by Upper Hutt students speaks out about upskirt incident, Stuff, 21.08.2018

Children's Minister Tracey Martin wants online pornography to be regulated, NZ Herald, 10.08.2018

Mates and Dates programme: Listen to the students, Opinion: Fiona McNamara, General Manger at Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Radio NZ, 09.08.2018

Maori providers delivering Mates and Dates lessons, Waatea News, 09.08.2018

ACC’s Mates and Dates programme is by specialists, Press Release: Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Scoop, 09.08.2018

Why ACC spending millions on ‘Mates and Dates’ undermines teachers, Opinion: Katie Fitzpatrick, The Spinoff, 09.08.2018

'They have already paid enough' - calls for no fees for sexual abuse survivors who want their automatic name suppression lifted, One News, 09.08.2018

More on sexual education in our schools, Radio NZ, 08.08.2018

Te Whāriki Takapou 'appalled' by $18m ACC sex-ed programme, Radio NZ, 08.08.2018

ACC criticised for funding sexual consent programme, Newstalk ZB, 08.08.2018

Hamilton students to Government: Sexual-consent education should be mandatory, NZ Herald, 07.08.2018

Experts oppose ACC sex consent classes, Radio NZ, 07.08.2018

Mates and Dates misses Māori mark, Waatea News, 07.08.2018

Lizzie Marvelly: The birds and the bees and the bond, Opinion, NZ Herald, 04.08.2018

Family Planning concerned by Mates and Dates programme, Press Release: Family Planning NZ, 03.08.2018

ACC’s sexuality education won’t protect young Māori, Press Release: Te Whariki Takapou, 03.08.2018

New programme to teach young people about consent, Newstalk ZB, 31.07.2018

Praise for new school programme teaching students about consent, Newstalk ZB, 31.07.2018

Sex ed programme Mates and Dates goes nationwide with $18.4m funding from ACC, NZ Herald, 30.07.2018