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The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Project

The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Project

Lead Organisation

Curtin University – Collaboration of Evidence, Research & Impact in Public Health


WA Department of Health

Region of Project

Western Australia

Target Group

Teachers in government, independent and catholic sectors

Funded by

WA Department of Health, Sexual Health & Blood-borne Virus Program


Hanna Saltis, Curtin University

Project overview

The RSE Project, based at Curtin University, provides a range of professional development opportunities to Western Australian schools (K-12) in the area of relationships and sexuality education. Respectful relationship education (RRE) is fundamental to all levels of our practice. We work with various local and national organisations to ensure that all information is current and evidence-based. Additionally, we undertake a range of research projects, which highlight areas of excellence in RRE and the need for continued, specific and high-quality RRE to be included across the Australian Curriculum. Our training aligns with the Western Australian curriculum and is suitable for all school sectors.

Duration of initiative

2014 – present


Process and impact evaluations are routinely carried out after each workshop, symposium and PD workshop. The efficacy of programs is also evaluated through case studies, which highlight program implementation at several schools across Western Australia.

Project process

The RSE Project is a multi-faceted program with multiple avenues to engage teachers across WA and Australia:

  • We offer free after-school webinars, termly.

  • There are twice-termly newsletters and a Facebook group where members can stay up-to-date with current sector news, resources, grants, research, training and events.

  • Each year, 40 teachers and school staff are selected to attend a free 2-day Perth Professional Training Program. This event is held biennially in the regions; regional schools may nominate to host this event for 20 teachers and school staff in their area. To ensure accessibility, these programs are funded, including being fully catered and offering reimbursement for relief teachers and travel for participants travelling for more than 100km.

  • The RSE Project has developed a number of tertiary study units available for pre-service teachers and for teachers who wish to upskill in RSE.

  • A biennial symposium is held in alternating years to the regional PD. This is a full-day event that spotlights local organisations, national and international leaders in the sector, local teachers’ success stories, and offers workshops in the afternoon. The symposium is a much-anticipated event in the RSE calendar.

Project achievement and successes

The RSE Project has delivered training for teachers in the form of two-day workshops, after-school seminars, and a biennial symposium. We also offer specialised, tailored training for schools on request.

Issues and challenges during this project

The main issues and challenges are:

  • Teacher training institutions don’t address RSE in any genuine way

  • Money/time for us to meet our deliverables – we would love to do more and reach more schools!

  • Being asked to come in an ‘solve’ the issue in one quick session, rather than allowing time for a more holistic and embedded program, which would have more tangible benefits

  • Resistance (perceived and real) from some parents and some school sectors

  • We continually have to push back and remind people that violence prevention should not be fear-based and risk-focused; sex positivity is the key!

Advice for others doing this type of work

Promote a whole-school approach! Whilst classroom instruction provides an opportunity for relationships and sexuality education, a whole-school approach is a more comprehensive and sustainable approach that is endorsed by the World Health Organization. A whole-school focus considers three key domains:

  • curriculum, learning and teaching;
  • school organisation, ethos and environment; and
  • partnership and services.

This ensures that what students are taught in the classroom is reinforced in the wider school environment and connects with parents, caregivers and the local community.


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