Victorian Muslim students to receive sexuality education as part of new personal safety curriculum

Muslim youth in the State of Victoria will soon have access to a tailored child safety curriculum that focuses on relationship and sexuality education.

Researchers from Monash University, together with Independent Schools Victoria, are developing a world-first personal safety and development program for Muslim students in Victorian Islamic schools.

The purpose of the project is to develop a comprehensive school–based personal safety and development program which covers topics such as relationships, sexuality and sex education, which have often been taboo subjects in Islamic schools.

The Child Safe Standards is a compulsory policy for all Victorian schools to create and maintain a child safe organisation and protect students from all forms of abuse.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fida Sanjakdar, Senior Lecturer, in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, explains that very little is known about Victorian Muslim youth’s understanding about personal safety.

“As researchers, we know very little about Victorian Muslim youth’s understanding about sexual health matters, especially in relation to their personal safety, decision making and actions. There are currently no school based programs, teacher resources, services, or preventative strategies to support the development of personal safety needs of Muslim youth,” said Associate Professor Sanjakdar.

The program is being developed with a community-led approach with collaboration from Victorian Islamic school leaders, teachers, parents and students, expert sexual health professionals and child educational consultants. The end result will be a program that is culturally and religiously appropriate.

“By working collaboratively with community and participatory-based approaches and methodologies, this project will increase the awareness of safe behaviours and actions intersected with Muslim and Islamic perspectives on sexual health, enhancing Muslim youth, parents and families’ access to information and support,” said Associate Professor Sanjakdar.

“Independent Schools Victoria is happy to support an education project about protective behaviours we know will be of great benefit to the students of Islamic Schools and the wider community,” said Michelle Green, Chief Executive of Independent Schools Victoria.

The program will also include an evaluative component to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the personal safety and development program for Muslim youth to improve personal safety awareness and sexual health education for Victorian Muslim youth.