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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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:
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)
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.
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
Research report, no. 2/13, September 2013
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.
Selected and related media
Submitted on Mon, 2018-08-27 18:29