With children in the Northern Territory as young as 12 entering unhealthy relationships, those on the front lines of domestic violence welcome a new resource aimed at teaching respect.
- Frontline workers say people as young as 12 in NT are getting into unhealthy relationships
- A new resource has been developed to create conversations around safe relationships
- Talking about respect includes interviews with young people and animations
The NT has the highest rates of domestic, family and sexual violence in Australia, with Aboriginal women among the most victimized groups of people in the world.
A frontline worker in Tennant Creek, Cassandra Fraser, sees these statistics playing out daily in her community.
“It’s not just the adults, the younger generation is getting into unhealthy relationships as well,” she said.
She says many of these unhealthy relationships include coercive control and jealousy, adding that Indigenous communities are fragmented after decades of intergenerational trauma and poverty.
The resulting suffering is evident in the high rates of domestic violence in the community, with social media now also playing its part, Ms Fraser says.
Takes a whole community
For all these reasons, she said she was “very eager” to participate in talk about respecta suite of educational resources for teachers, educators and social workers.
At the heart of Talking Respect is a series of interviews with young people from across the region, reflecting on issues such as consent, pornography, nudity and jealousy.
Ms. Fraser, who works at the Tennant Creek Women’s Refuge, traveled the city recruiting young people to share their views.
She has seen the interviews “sow seeds” in young people, “so they can start to see when something is wrong and talk about it”.
“I would like it to be transported across Tennant Creek. We need it,” she said.
“Stopping this behavior takes an entire community.”
Break the ice
Connie Shaw, 23, works as a youth worker in her community and is part of the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group (TWFSG), which works to end gender-based violence in Alice Springs municipal camps.
At 17, she was interviewed for the project and said she has learned a lot since then.
“I feel like I should have known more back then,” she said, but as a youngster, “there aren’t a lot of resources there.”
As a youth worker and member of the TWFSG, Ms Shaw says she sees firsthand how important resources like Talking Respect are.
She said she was happy to be part of the resources and hoped they would make a difference.
“I wish young people could ask me about their relationships because I know how to look for signs of a bad relationship.
Ms Shaw said the videos would hopefully be “an icebreaker” to start conversations about young people’s lives.
Adopt a healthy behavior
Maree Crabbe developed Talking Respect in partnership with local women’s shelters to help erode gender inequality, attitudes and beliefs that underpin domestic violence.
“These resources are primary prevention resources, so they will not prevent violence from happening tonight or tomorrow,” she said.
In addition to the videos, a specially designed website offers manuals, PowerPoint slides, and discussion questions that anyone can download and use.
Talking Respect also includes animations that “model” healthy behavior in situations that could have caused unhealthy behavior.
Ms Crabbe said that while it was by no means the only primary prevention resource for young people in Australia, there were not many of them and Talking Respect was unique because of the cultural diversity it reflected.
Young people from a wide range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds participated in the interviews.
She said the resources were sensitive to the ongoing impacts of colonization and aimed to engage with young people in a way that encouraged participation.