Dear Members of the Yarra Valley Grammar Community,
Following widespread accounts of young women’s harmful experiences, there is little doubt that there is
a disturbing level of sexism, misogyny and unreported sexual assault in this country. The voices which are
being raised to challenge the status quo ought to be applauded and supported and all of us collectively
need to demand a change in attitudes and behaviours. I also understand that there are few viable ways
in which young women can seek justice and be heard on these issues.
Much of the public debate has been generated as a result of anonymous and unverifiable accounts on a
blog petition where claims cannot be fully investigated. This does not mean that these harrowing accounts
are untrue, it just means that schools are having to respond with incomplete information.
I am writing to let you know how we are responding here at Yarra. In responding I take guidance from the
Director of the Workplace Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) Libby Lyons who writes that:
“This is not about pitting men against women, this is about ensuring we point out that we all need to be
Whilst recognising that there is a particular problem for young women in schools and in the workplace,
“This is about respect for everyone.”
I have brought this issue initially to the attention of school staff and our secondary school students. We
have also begun a series of conversations and consultation with student leaders in the Junior, Middle and
Senior Schools to provide us with a clear understanding of this question in our own school context. This
will assist us in shaping our curriculum and other programmes to address these complex issues. In
addition, the safety survey we undertake twice a year in the school will be brought forward and target
these behaviours specifically.
We are fortunate at Yarra that we have a very positive school culture. We would be naïve however, if we
assumed that these problems do not and will not occur here. We move now to a period of discernment
as to what the issues might be and how best to address them.