NO piggy-tailed little girl dreams of being abused by her partner when she grows up.

No rowdy boy boasts to his kindergarten friends about how he will be that current or former partner.

It is these sweet, innocent faces combined with faces we already know that makes anti-domestic violence organisation Our Watch's video campaign so powerful.

The four-minute video starts with the kids sharing the typically lofty dreams of children - hopes of becoming an astrophysicist, a nurse, a firefighter - but things quickly turn sinister as they begin to speak about the harsh realities that could instead lie ahead.

"When I grow up I'm going to end up in hospital because my husband hits me," one young girl tells the camera.

No child wants to grow up to feel unsafe.
No child wants to grow up to feel unsafe. Our Watch


That is when well-known Australians step in to add their voices - people such as family violence campaigner and 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, actor Shane Jacobson, comedian Charlie Pickering and politician Natasha Stott Despoja.

"Our beliefs about the way boys and girls, women and men, are supposed to act are formed in childhood," Jacobson says.

Read the full transcript from the video here

Our Watch chief Paul Linossier hopes the video, which was released in September 2014, will encourage people to consider what causes one of Australia's greatest epidemics.

Popular television presenter Charlie Pickering stands with Our Watch in the fight against abuse
Popular television presenter Charlie Pickering stands with Our Watch in the fight against abuse Our Watch


He hopes people will discuss gender inequality, rigid traditional gender stereotypes and contemplate what they can do to overcome sexism.

"We know this isn't going to change overnight," Mr Linossier said.

"It's a product of thousands of years of social civilisation, but if we work at it consistently over a decade, over a generation we believe we can make a real difference."

One of the ways Our Watch is trying to make a generational difference is through a program it is piloting in conjunction with the Victorian Government, called Respectful Relationships Education in Schools.

Policy and program manager Emily Maguire said one of the key things about the program was not just the education content for young people, but also reinforcing gender equality messages across the entire school environment.

"While the program in the classroom is great, until it's reinforced at school - by the teachers, in how they teach, in the school as a workplace where there's gender equality - then it's all undermined, and the shift in attitudes doesn't last," she said.

"And we're working with principals to look at the school as a gendered workplace, and on how to encourage gender equality."

Indigenous actor Kelton Pell supports the work of Our Watch in its campaign video.
Indigenous actor Kelton Pell supports the work of Our Watch in its campaign video. Our Watch


Our Watch's belief is this kind of education should not be left to the goodwill of individual schools and the community sector to deliver, often with patchy government funding - it should be government led and embedded in all schools.

The introduction of healthy relationships education in schools was one of the 140 recommendations from the Queensland Special Task Force into Domestic and Family Violence and is one of the goals of this newspaper's Terror At Home campaign.

APN Newsdesk approached Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones for comment about domestic violence education in schools, but did not receive a response.



NAPCAN making in-roads to fight child abuse and neglect

ANOTHER group at the helm of educating children about domestic abuse is anti-child abuse and neglect advocates Napcan.

Trudi Peters and her team at National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect have fought long and hard for funding for their programs, which include schooling teachers and students aged 12 to 15 and 15 to 17.

Their most widespread program is Love Bites, which has been running in numerous schools across the country since 2003.

Napcan's most popular program,  'Love Bites'.
Napcan's most popular program, 'Love Bites'.

It began in response to teachers' concerns about young people who appeared to be getting involved in abusive and unhealthy relationships at a New South Wales high school.

Ms Peters said police, along with groups in the health, domestic violence education arenas came together to write the prevention program for young people.

Their programs cover topics such as being respectful, expectations in relationships, giving consent, and managing difficulties and arguments.

"If we could put more resources into prevention we would save so much in the future," Ms Peters said.

"We do know this sort of prevention work can work… we know that from literature, from programs overseas and Australia."

But a big part of their struggle is funding.

Ms Peters said children wanted to have respectful relationships.

"They're really keen to know what they want from relationships," Ms Peters said.

She said Napcan also encouraged schools to co-ordinate with the White Ribbon and Our Watch organisations.


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