The Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program is having a ripple effect at Blackwood High where students have helped the primary prevention initiative to a historic milestone.

At its 140th school visit, PTEVAW yesterday reached its 10,000th student, six years after the program was launched in South Australia to encourage whole-of-community change.

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

Centacare, Power Community Limited (PCL) and the Department of Education launched PTEVAW in 2016.

Blackwood High was among the first schools to engage the program, and in recent years it has introduced peer-to-peer learning to continue conversations about respect and gender equality.

Students in Years 11 and 12 help deliver PTEVAW at the school, alongside PCL program coordinator and Magpies captain Cam Sutcliffe.

Year 12 student Jay said that since undertaking PTEVAW two years ago, he had stepped in to call out inappropriate behaviour amongst his peers. Yesterday he co-facilitated the program with fellow school leaders Darcy and James.

Darcy said the trio took their role as advocates for change seriously and encouraged younger students to follow their lead and role model respectful relationships in all aspects of life.

After undertaking PTEVAW for the first time, Year 10 students Lachlan and Kobe said they had a better understanding of gendered drivers of abuse and in future would not hesitate to call out disrespectful behaviours such as sexist jokes.

A 2018 evaluation of PTEVAW by Flinders University found messages about respectful relationships stick with male secondary school students beyond the classroom.

“What is quite powerful is the way the program challenges students to look at certain behaviours, such as street harassment or belittling and gendered language, and how this manifests in a mentality that contributes to a normalised continuum of disrespect and inequity,’’ said Dr Jonathon Louth, who co-wrote the evaluation and now heads up strategy and research at Centacare.

“While we are not in a position to measure the extent to which the retention of key messages transitions into behaviour change over the long-term, the study reveals that there is an increase in awareness and there are early indicators of positive outcomes.

“As it stands, the program is vital for starting conversations and speaking across generations.’’

Power Community Limited General Manager Jake Battifuoco said he had observed significant shifts in the behaviours of young people over time.

“I think that is more broadly demonstrating the significance of a whole-of-community approach to promoting gender equality,’’ he said.

“We know how important primary prevention programs are so that we can have the conversations early and stop violence before it starts.’’

Centacare Director Pauline Connelly said reaching 10,000 students was significant.

“Imagine the ripple effect of that through families, through friends, through communities,’’ she said.

“We see firsthand the effects of domestic violence, and abuse, and power imbalance in families through clients at Centacare.

“We know that relationships, and how to have a relationship, and how to be in a relationship is influenced by the significant others around you.

“So to have programs like this where young people are given another choice, and information about what a healthy relationship can look like, and from that discern how they want to be as a person, it’s remarkable as much as it is essential.’’

*If you would like the Power to End Violence Against Women program visit your school, please contact Community Programs Coordinator Cam Sutcliffe