In early 2016, Port Adelaide legend Gavin Wanganeen visited Ocean View College to start a push to shape the attitudes of young men through the Power to End Violence Against Women program.

Seven years and 11,020 students later, the nationally recognised primary prevention initiative yesterday returned to the college to mark its historic 150th school visit.

Port Adelaide Football Club captain Tom Jonas joined Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines and Magpies skipper Cam Sutcliffe in the classroom to celebrate the achievement, which follows the program’s 10,000th student milestone in August last year.

PTEVAW used the power of sport as a hook to start conversations with male Year 10 students about domestic violence and challenge gender-based norms that can lead to abuse.

Students explore rights and responsibilities in relationships, personal values, how to recognise disrespectful behaviour, and being a positive bystander. They further their learning at an annual leadership day and role model event.

The program aims to equip students with the knowledge to make informed decisions and become advocates for change – at school, at home, and in the wider community.

By year’s end, nearly 14,000 students across South Australia will have completed PTEVAW, which is delivered by Power Community Limited (PCL) and was developed with major partner Centacare, and the Department for Education.

Nationally, almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, and one in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

Ocean View College Senior Years Wellbeing Leader Narelle Ek said the ‘’haunting statistics’’ stick with the boys who look forward to engaging with the program each year.

‘’We have had a couple of students over the years where the message has been close to home and they’ve spoken to me privately to say they are so grateful that somebody is speaking out and that there is hope for change,’’ Narelle said.

‘’When I asked the students this week about the difference between this program and other respectful relationships education they undertake, they said having it delivered by the Port Adelaide Football Club and players has a big impact, especially if they are supporters.’’

Narelle said students carry their learnings forward by speaking at assembly and participating in community events, such as the Clothesline Project, to create whole-of-school awareness of domestic violence and harassment of women and girls.

‘’The school’s three values are respect, responsibility and resilience and the program relates to that on a number of different levels,’’ she said.

‘’I am all about equipping the senior students with a toolkit to help them thrive in life so that they think about issues, know where to get help if they need it, and recognise that they can be really powerful through the choices they make and the behaviours they choose.’’

A 2018 Flinders University evaluation of PTEVAW, which recommended involving women and girls in raising awareness of gender-based violence, spawned spin-off program Empowered in 2020.

Delivered alongside PTEVAW, Empowered aims to enhance participants’ positive sense of self and foster critical thinking about gender equity and women’s rights. Together, the programs visit 25 schools each year.

PCL General Manager Jake Battifuoco said the 150th school visit reflected PTEVAW’s continued  growth in the push for long-term change.

“The 150th school visit is an important milestone for the PTEVAW program and I’m proud of the team, and our partners Centacare Catholic Family Services, and the Department of Education for growing and developing the program over the last eight years,” he said.

“Primary prevention remains crucial in addressing the underlying social drivers of violence such as attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, and systems.”

PCL evaluation data shows that 91 per cent of students who undertook PTEVAW last year reported they have a better understanding of healthy relationships, and 97 per cent believe that domestic violence is preventable.

Working to change the underlying social drivers of violence by addressing the attitudes and systems that drive violence against women and children to stop it before it starts is one of four key domains in the new National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032.

Centacare Deputy Executive Director Pauline Connelly said PTEVAW provides an avenue for students to ‘’reflect upon the differing rhetoric and attitudes, pervasive in communities today, towards violence and control within relationships.”

‘’The importance of the Power to End Violence program cannot be underestimated or taken for granted,’’ she said.

‘’The program connects young people who are discovering what it means to be in relationship with another, with an elite football club, a welfare organisation and a government department, to assist young minds in finding their deeper, wiser selves, and taking this awareness into their relationships.’’

In 2024-2025, PTEVAW and Empowered will engage 3250 students across 50 schools.