As education institutions, workplaces and community hubs, primary and secondary schools are widely recognised as key settings in which to promote respectful relationships, non-violence and gender equality. During their schooling, children and young people are in their formative years, during which gendered roles and expectations are heavily reinforced and adolescents often experience their first intimate relationships. At the same time, students can be impacted by attitudes, structures and practices at school that perpetuate gender inequality that manifest and intersect with other forms of discrimination such as racism and ableism. To equip students to deal with the inequalities they can face in their daily lives and to raise the next generation to form healthy relationships, schools are therefore important settings for the prevention of gender-based violence.
Respectful relationships education is a holistic approach to school-based, primary prevention of gender-based violence that aims to comprehensively address the drivers of violence and create a future free from it. There are varying understandings of what constitutes good practice respectful relationships education in Australia and internationally. This review of national and international evidence on violence prevention in schools, published since 2015, finds that short-term and ad hoc inputs in classrooms and schools tend to be unproductive in bringing about change.