Expect Respect is an advocacy initiative which aims to heighten awareness in children, adults and the community of the need for respect in relationships, especially towards women and children. The project works in our District (D23) as follows:
- Children in years 4/5 were introduced to the theme by their teachers, supported by experts in the field (the Police and Community Workers) with a 2 hour workshop.
- The children used art to create posters to reflect their learning including the national domestic violence help line number and positive word messages.
- The posters were celebrated with a public exhibition of all artworks, launched at the Mt Barker Library in November to coincide with the ZONTA International Campaign for 2013 to end Gender based Violence - “ZONTA Says NO”, and the White Ribbon Day. The children and members of the community met to receive recognition for their work with a number of prizes going to children who showed an understanding of the issues. A group of local men of all ages attended and swore the White Ribbon Day oath, a pledge to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against Women. The group then gathered outside to shout “NO” to violence against women. The decibels were measured to compare to those reached in other rural communities near Mt Barker and this was greatly enjoyed by the children. Derrick Mc Mannus, a White Ribbon Ambassador attended the launch and his talk and leadership for the swearing of the oath and shout NO were an inspirational experience.
- The artworks were laminated and given to the children with a merit certificate in appreciation of their commitment to the project.
- A selection of the children’s artworks provided the key elements for a monthly calendar which each student took home. Each month the artwork shows different key messages about respectful relationships, taken from the workshops and interpreted by the children. We expect that the calendars have been hung in the homes as a source of pride for families and a constant reminder throughout the year of the need for respect in relationships and a quick reference for support services hotlines.
Expect Respect was developed with the following rationale:
- Educating children before poor social habits develop is preferable to dealing with crime and disrespect at teenage and later years.
- Gender and cultural change are interdependent. Involving men is essential to raising awareness about the need to promote a society free from the issue of domestic violence.
- Building and maintaining strong links with the local government, police and support services is essential to ensuring that Zonta activities are supported and are in line with current policy.