3. every young person needs
Freedom from violence, bullying and discrimination
“I think it’s important for us to change the perception that non-Indigenous people have of Indigenous people, to move it from something negative to positive. It’s time to celebrate it, share it and show them we're not what they think of us, we're so much more than that.”
– Young delegate, Koorie Youth Summit 2017
"As a teen I see racism as a big issue and there is lots of racism between teenagers at school because they don't know anything about refugees and why they moved to here and it's sad."
– Young person at rural and regional forum
“What I want for my community: Safer spaces for young women (e.g. more street lights, security) so that we can travel where we like and not feel at risk of sexual harassment/assault."
– Young person telling YACVic what matters to them
All young people ought to feel safe. We want to build a Victoria where every young person can live free from abuse, bullying and discrimination, and take part in schools, workplaces and communities that are welcoming and respectful.
Many young people are taking a lead in building better communities. Young Victorians see equity and discrimination as the most important issue facing Australia today, and young Australians are more accepting of multiculturalism than previous generations.
But factors like family violence, racism, workplace bullying, and male violence against women continue to cause harm, endangering young people’s health and making it harder for young people to connect to good things like education, employment and community life. For example, one in four Australian women experience intimate partner violence, and only 15% of young Victorian women feel safe walking at night. One in two young Victorians experience bullying in the workplace, and 49% of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds have experienced discrimination in the past year.
We know that young people want to live in safe, peaceful communities. In our survey with Victoria Walks of over 1,000 young Victorians we learned that poor urban design and a widespread culture of street harassment are limiting the mobility of young people. Worryingly, only 15% of young women (compared to 54% of young men) feel safe when walking at night, which is denying them opportunities to participate in public life.
Family violence and violence against women are prevented.
First steps by 2020
Embed Respectful Relationships Education in all schools and flexible learning providers, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016). To be successful, we need whole-of-school approaches which address the gendered drivers of violence. There must be careful planning and phasing, ongoing training and support for school staff, expert work to engage families and wider school communities, and strong partnerships between schools, family violence services, and related services.
Fund targeted research and support for Respectful Relationships Education in teaching environments where young people are at elevated risk of being victims and/or perpetrators of violence, such as flexible learning settings and youth justice settings.
Strengthen young women's safety in public places by implementing the recommendations of Plan International Australia and Our Watch. In particular, engage young women in the design of public spaces, and ensure respectful relationships campaigns address young women's right to be mobile, use public space, and take part in activities outside the home. YACVic calls for action to engage young people with disability on these topics, too.
Uphold the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022 and work within the Change the Story framework: a national, evidence-based approach which helps decision-makers challenge violence-condoning attitudes, promote women’s independence, challenge gender stereotypes, and promote equity and respectful relationships.
Young people who have been victims of violence can access the right support services.
First steps by 2020
Fund therapeutic interventions and counselling for young people who have been victims of family violence, as recommended by the Royal Commission. (The Commission suggested expanding the types of work delivered by the Homeless Children’s Specialist Support Service and Take Two program.)
Support young people who disclose abuse as a result of Respectful Relationships Education. Adequate resources, staff and partnerships must be in place between schools and services, so they can support young people presenting with low, medium and high risk.
Increase investment in sexual assault support services to provide short, medium and long term crisis care, advocacy, counselling, casework and group work for young people. Particular work is needed to meet the needs of young people with disability and rurally isolated young people.
Resource age-appropriate responses to relationship violence and sexual violence occurring between young people. This should be done in partnership with community services and health services.
Strengthen training and professional support for youth workers so they are better equipped to respond to disclosures of family violence, relationship violence and sexual violence, and to lead violence prevention work with young people.
Young people can study, work and take part in their communities in a respectful and welcoming environment.
First steps by 2020
Train all education providers to be culturally safe for Aboriginal young people, foster cultural diversity and different ways of learning, and embed Aboriginal culture, language and history in the curriculum, as recommended by the Koorie Youth Council.
Implement cultural competency and anti-racism training for teachers, and work with schools to develop anti-racism strategies, as recommended by the Centre for Multicultural Youth.
Continue to support programs such as Safe Schools that ensure schools are safe, welcoming and inclusive places for all students, staff and family members, no matter their identity or background.
Support young people’s safety in the workplace. As recommended by the Young Workers Centre:
Embed workplace bullying and health and safety training into school careers education.
Recognise sexual harassment as a workplace health and safety issue, collect data on the topic, and introduce trained Women’s Advocates into workplaces.
Investigate the creation of an online platform to allow workers to report employer responses to workplace bullying, health and safety.
Support WorkSafe to develop a bullying code to improve employer compliance with the OHS Act, and refine systems to enable more confidential reporting of bullying.
Fund opportunities for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to develop media skills and create their own media, and bystander action programs to equip community members to challenge racism in daily situations, as recommended by the Centre for Multicultural Youth.
Promote diverse representation of the Aboriginal community in media, politics, community and government, as recommended by the Koorie Youth Council. Support Aboriginal-led media and celebrations of culture.
Implement the recommendations of Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools (Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission) as regards inclusion, bullying, respect and safety for students with disability.
Invest in a cultural competence program for all youth workers around the state, designed in collaboration with local communities, the Centre for Multicultural Youth and the Koorie Youth Council.
Address barriers to personal and road safety and improve traffic safety for pedestrians by developing and adopting a Safe System road safety strategy for vulnerable road users, particularly pedestrians, in order to address the current imbalanced focus on motor vehicle occupants, as recommended by Victoria Walks and YACVic.
How you can take action
Ask your local candidates these questions in the lead up to the 2018 state election:
1. Do they support Respectful Relationships Education being embedded into every school community in Victoria?
2. Will they pledge to keep implementing all the recommendations of the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence?
3. What steps would they take to end bullying in schools, including of students with disability?
4. What steps would they take to strengthen young people’s engagement with Aboriginal culture, language and history?