Four-year-olds who exhibit sexist behaviour at preschool are the latest targets of the Victorian government’s crusade against family violence, with early childhood educators to be taught how to eradicate gendered norms and stereotypes from the classrooms. The Victorian Education and Training Department will train 4000 early childhood educators during the next year to implement respectful relationships programs in preschools. It is seeking a supplier to develop and deliver a course that will increase educators’ knowledge of the role of “gender equality in preventing family violence”. According to a recently released tender document, research has shown that children become aware of “gender expectations” and try to “fit within these gendered norms” by the time they are in preschool.
“As young children learn about gender, they may also begin to enact sexist values, beliefs and attitudes that may contribute to disrespect and gender inequality,” the document says. “Professional learning will increase the capacity of early childhood educators to understand and implement respectful relationships and gender equality into their program delivery. “It will build the capacity of educators to use reflective practice to critically evaluate their work with children using anti-bias approaches specifically regarding gender bias.” The push into preschools is the latest element of the Andrews Labor government’s $21.8 million Respectful Relationships package for schools, inspired by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Unveiled late last year, the package attracted widespread criticism for pushing the concept of “male privilege” and “hegemonic masculinity” into classrooms, and for failing to consider the multiple, complex drivers of family violence, which also has an impact on men and boys. Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly has been critical of the Victorian government’s interpretation of Respectful Relationships, which he believes is laden in gender and sexuality theory similar to the Safe Schools program. Dr Donnelly pointed out that the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, which guides early childhood professionals in the state, already stressed the importance of encouraging respectful relationships in the preschool setting as well as avoiding practices that directly or indirectly contribute to gender inequality, prejudice and discrimination.
“Why are we indoctrinating kids to believe that being a boy, or being a girl, is abnormal? It’s actually quite dangerous,” he said. “This is simply extending that gender and sexuality theory to preschool and kindergarten.” The new program will cost taxpayers $3.4m. Existing materials aimed at the foundation level cautions teachers against phrases such as “boys will be boys” and reinforcing stereotypical labelling “boys are strong, girls are gentle”. Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos defended the early childhood program, saying it would be appropriately designed. “The early years are an important time to start helping children develop a secure sense of self and healthy, respectful relationships, this will help prevent family violence in the long-term,” Ms Mikakos said. Liberal families spokesman Georgie Crozier said the government should “let kids be kids”.
STATE SANCTIONED SUICIDE BEING PROMOTED BY WEST AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT
The ACL has warned against moves by new WA Health Minister Roger Cook to advocate for state-sanctioned assisted suicide. ACL WA director Dahlia Messiha said the community would be rightly concerned if efforts were directed at removing safeguards which seek to prevent state sanctioned suicide. “Mr Cook claims there is a “growing demand” to allow for assisted suicide, however, many have expressed concerns regarding this issue, especially those who would be the most vulnerable to concerted efforts to remove current safeguards,” Ms Messiha said. “The State Government has only just been appointed and already the health minister is advocating for euthanasia when palliative care provides better options. “How this became the first health priority for WA is extremely unclear.”
“The responsibility for the health minister should be to improve our hospitals and ensure better health care for the vulnerable by exploring palliative care options. Euthanasia laws around the world have a track record of failing to protect vulnerable people being pressured to end their life,” Ms Messiha said. “Research shows there is no such thing as ‘safe’ euthanasia legislation. As a community we need to send a clear signal to everyone requiring assistance, they are not better off dead but are valued human beings. “Belgium and the Netherlands are held up as ‘best practice’ examples by euthanasia proponents, but over time so-called safeguards had been whittled away, and undue pressure has been placed on vulnerable people such as those with disabilities or the elderly” Ms Messiha said.
“While ACL understands and shares the desire to see people relieved of their pain, this can be better achieved by investing in better palliative care methods and technologies” Ms Messiha said. “Many medical practitioners who specialise in end of life treatment agree that palliative care is a more prudent and ethical way of ensuring a dignified death than public policy which is open to abuse and which unwittingly or wittingly puts pressure on the ill and vulnerable to end their lives.”
NATIONAL GUN AMNESTY A CHRIST-LIKE AND GHANDIAN INITIATIVE
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan has announced the first national gun amnesty since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, a three-month amnesty from July 1, in an attempt to keep Australia’s 260,000 illegal guns out of terrorists’ hands. Another national gun amnesty is a wonderful idea, Melbourne Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins said. “It is a practical peace-making initiative and we congratulate the Federal Government.” Bishop Huggins, who called for such an amnesty in November 2015, said fewer guns meant less innocent suffering. It was one thing for people to be angry, seized with hatred, unable to constrain their violent impulses and quite another to be like that with access to weapons. We see in America the awful suffering that results from their approach to weapons. Their delusional link between human freedom and owning guns causes so much unnecessary suffering.
“There are voices in our public debate who want to promote a similar approach to weapons here,” Bishop Huggins said. “One wonders what part of reality they are actually in touch with. It is certainly not the reality of families who have lost a loved one because some violent person also had access to a gun. Both Jesus Christ and Ghandi believed we should look to the needs of the most vulnerable and be shaped by them. The Federal Government’s decision to initiate a new national gun amnesty is Christ-like and Ghandian and in its wisdom and practicality.”
Source: Press Release from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne