Anglicare has launched a new youth program aimed at preventing an all-too-common form of violence in Australia. It’s an alarming stat that shocked Australians: 55 women died at the hands of their intimate partner last year. It means that on average, at least one woman dies each week as the result of domestic violence. And, at least one in every four women, and one in 13 men, suffer abuse by an intimate partner. Now, Anglicare has teamed up with Youthworks to tackle the problem. Both Anglicare’s Community Services team and Anglicare’s youth initiative, Take Love, have joined forces with Youthworks to create the youth group program Before It Starts. The four-week downloadable program focuses on teaching high school-aged girls and boys how to build healthy relationships.
The program, which includes survivors’ stories, Bible studies and games, evolved from within the Anglican ministry. “It came out of people in the ministry talking about the issues and concerns that they were needing to respond to,” Lynda Dunstan, Anglicare Sydney’s family and domestic violence advisor said. “With the current conversation in our community about sexual assault experienced by young women, it is very clear to see that these are significant issues impacting young people.” The initiative covers topics including identity, love, power, romance and friendship. It also teaches young women to recognise when they are in a potentially abusive relationship. “That’s a significant part of the education,” Ms Dunstan said.
“It’s teaching young people what good, healthy, respectful relationships are for Christians. But we want young women to really be aware of some of the red flags of when the relationship is maybe not going to be OK.” The program is aimed at both girls and boys. “We’ve designed it for any youth group, young women and men together,” Ms Dunstan said. “There are some activities where they might have discussion groups for girls only or boys only, but mostly it’s designed for male and females together. “It involves some teaching components, Bible study and discussion questions. It’s really designed to give you a full program including activities and teaching.” Rev Mike Dicker, Dean of Students at Youthworks College, said: “We really hope this program will shape the behaviours of our young people to follow the gracious and loving behaviour of the Lord Jesus”.