Voices against Violence is interactive, child and youth centred, and provides opportunities for our Guides to talk about relationships, gender equality and abuse within a safe and supportive environment. The curriculum is divided into four age groups each supported by specific program with age appropriate activities and sessions.
- “Early” (aged five to seven),
- “Young” (aged eight to 11),
- “Middle” (aged 12 to 16) and
- “Older” (aged 17 to 25)
As part of the world movement, our mission is to empower girls and young women to become confident, self-respecting, responsible community members. With the issue of violence against women and their children quite large in our community, Girl Guides Australia is proud to be supporting a great volunteer team to roll this program out for our members and community.
Girl Guides Australia (as the recognised Member Organisation of World Guiding) has been granted permission by the World Board to implement the program in Australia based on an effective risk management plan, quality project plan, effective resourcing and our ability to contextualise the program for the Australian environment. The Board of Girl Guides Australia has endorsed the proposal to deliver the program in Australia through the nominated project team and as part of our annual GGA business plan – it is part of our participation in the world movement, and a powerful way that we can deliver our mission in the community.
Why Voices Against Violence?
The reality is, it is an issue across Australia. Statistics tell us that it doesn’t matter where you live, how much you earn, or how much you are educated, women and girls are impacted by gender-based violence.
Research from the ABS Personal Safety Survey in 2012 tells us that 19% of women in Australia have experienced sexual violence since the age of fifteen (1 in 5) with 34% (1 in 3) experiencing physical violence at some time in their lives.
In addition, Australian research demonstrates that children exposed to domestic and family violence are likely to experience a range of difficulties, including, but not limited to, low self-esteem, poor mental health, impaired cognitive function, school difficulties and increased likelihood of substance abuse.
As a movement whose mission is empowering girls and young women, the Board of Girl Guides Australia and all State Commissioners are of one view – we cannot deliver to our mission if we don’t take action. In our view, as part of a movement that is charged to make a difference to the lives of girls and young women, we need to be a part of the solution and delivering this program is part of this.
Voices Against Violence Pilot
With the approval of the National Board and all State Commissioners, a series of pilot study sessions has been held in Queensland and Victoria to evaluate the program for a national roll out. Facilitators of these sessions have undergone mandatory training in the program prior to presenting it to Girl Guide Units. The pilot study will ensure that the right policies and procedures are in place, that the program is well resourced and that our volunteers and girls are set up for success.
Whilst GGA has decided not to implement the program for girls aged 5 to 7 years until we have evaluated the pilot, we do agree with the research that says that it is important to start talking with young people about this issue. Addressing gender-based violence starts with addressing the core of the problem – gender inequality. This is what the Voices against Violence program does in age appropriate ways. We know that children start to learn about stereotypes and roles very early in their lives from the media, from music, from TV and movies and also from their peers, parents and guardians. We know from the age of 9 years, children start to have an understanding of culturally accepted gender roles. Our role in Girl Guiding is to seek out learning opportunities in a safe, informed and supported way that can assist young people to “understand influences on identity, relationships and decision making.”
This is what Voices against Violence does.
In doing this work we are grateful for the support that we have received from the Australian Government and the Office for Women. Further information on the broad strategy from WAGGGS to stop violence against women and girls can be found here.