I'm Georgia Knowles from ACC and I'm the subject matter expert for our healthy relationships programme called Mates and Dates. I was also lucky enough to be part of the team that developed the programme.
ACC developed Mates and Dates to help young people have healthy and happy relationships. We also wanted to try and prevent harm that's caused by sexual and dating violence for young people, so we spoke with them about what kind of things they'd want to know that would support them to have respectful relationships.
They talked with us about how they felt like they often got a lot of biological information about sex and safe sex but that they wanted some more information about the social and emotional aspects of relationships.
So Mates and Dates was structured around what young people told us they wanted.
That was supported by research which says school-based programmes are one of the most effective ways to prevent sexual and dating harm for young people, because it's the best place that they can learn how to have healthy relationships.
Mates and Dates is a five year programme which is delivered at every year level at secondary school. The course covers information that young people told us that they wanted to learn about. So it has five core themes that are repeated at each year. They discuss things like healthy relationships; consent; identity, gender & sexuality; violence awareness raising; and how to keep themselves and their friends safe.
At each year level there are five sessions which are delivered once per week for five weeks. It's really important that they're delivered that way because young people need the opportunity to practice and talk about things that they've learnt in each session, and then come back next week and have that information reinforced.
The other reason that it's really important is that some information might be quite difficult for young people to discuss, particularly information around violence. So they need the opportunity to take a break and come back and be fully engaged.
ACC fully funds local providers to deliver the programme in schools, and we also train the facilitators.
These people are used to providing social services to young people.
We have providers who are youth workers, counsellors, DHB's, sexual health promoters - all different types of people, but the value is that if something comes up for a young person during the programme, and they need some sort of ongoing support, there's already a connection back to a local social service who can provide that.
Mates and Dates is fully aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum and can also be delivered at any time during the school year, so part of what our local providers do is work with Principals and teaching staff to figure out when's the best time for them.
Mates and Dates has been well researched and evaluated so we know that it's both safe and it also has really positive impacts for young people.
It's also what young people told us that they wanted, so if we can support them to have healthy relationships at school and at home, we also know that they will do better academically
I'm really excited to share this programme around schools in New Zealand because Mates and Dates is well researched, and it's engaging and it supports young people to have safe and confident relationships.
If you'd like more information about the programme, visit www.matesanddates.co.nz