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Question: Misogynistic behaviour in schools

2 May 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:09): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Education on the topic of behaviour in schools.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: An ongoing study by the University of Adelaide has to date found that misogynistic language and behaviour by male school students in Adelaide is heightened and that male students are working in groups to physically intimidate their female teachers and peers. An article published in The Conversation written by a senior lecturer from the University of Adelaide, Samantha Schulz, includes quotes from teachers. One teacher says:

Boys are increasingly using misogynistic language towards female students and teachers, telling them to 'make me a sandwich'.

Another teacher stated:

I find it disconcerting that by the age of 14 or 15, they [the boys] know how to use their presence to menace...if they are behaving like this with me, what are they like with young women their own age or the women in their families?

Last weekend, thousands of people across the country attended rallies against gendered violence and last night, silent vigils were held in memory of the victims of domestic violence. Samantha Schulz's article in The Conversation draws a link between the increase in misogynistic behaviour in schools and the problem of domestic violence. The article calls for a policy of identifying, reporting and responding to gendered violence, abuse and harassment.

My question to the minister representing the Minister for Education is: is the government concerned about the increase of misogynistic language and misogynistic behaviour in schools and what are the government's policies to address this issue?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:11): I am happy to pass on the substance of that question about what programs and efforts there are within our education system, but I might just add that from my point of view, and I know the member for Wright, the Hon. Blair Boyer, the education minister, shares very strongly the view that that type of behaviour, that type of language not just has no place in our schools but has no place anywhere.

As I think men all around Australia are increasingly appreciating, it is not just the behaviours but it is the attitudes of men that drastically need to change to make our society a safer place for women and girls. Some of the things that people have walked past or even tolerated in the past were not acceptable then, and they are certainly not acceptable now, and in all aspects, including our education system, we all, particularly men, have a responsibility to call out such behaviours.