The Peer Education model
SL&RR challenges the gendered and ableist stereotypes, systems, beliefs and behaviours that underpin violence and abuse in relationships. The SL&RR model is based on the work of the World Health Organisation which informs domestic policy in Australia including the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. SL&RR reflects best practice in violence and abuse prevention and inclusion. It recognizes that work needs to be done at individual, community and system wide levels to prevent violence and abuse in relationships. It has a central focus on respectful relationships at all levels including personal and social relationships. The SL&RR model has four components:
- Peer education by people with an intellectual disability delivering a respectful relationships program
- Supporting change in relationships through learning partnerships
- Sector development through partnerships with community organisations involved in domestic/family/ sexual violence, women’s and community health and disability advocacy, and
- Systemic change through research and translation of outcomes.
Barger, E., Wacker, J., Macy, R. and Parish, S., 2009. Sexual assault prevention for women with intellectual disabilities: a critical review of the evidence. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 47(4), pp.249-262.
You click on any of the model components to learn more.
Research and evaluation
Research and evaluation is a key element of the SL&RR model. This includes timely and regular evaluations at the program, train the trainer, site and national levels. Research into the SL&RR program has examined how the model works to effectively connect participants with mainstream services and also build the capacity of these services to support people (cohealth, 2016; Frawley & Anderson, 2014; Frawley & O’Shea, 2012). Research and evaluation of the model has found that the model supports the development of positive attitudes and responses for people with intellectual disability including that they:
- Are sexual, can live sexual lives, have sexual rights and have relationships which include positive and negative experiences (Johnson, Hillier, Harrison, & Frawley, 2000);
- Benefit from a cross-sectoral response which engages with disability and mainstream service provision in violence and abuse prevention (Frawley & Anderson, 2014) and
- Can learn about respectful relationships, community resources and supports (Frawley & Bigby, 2015) and successfully share their experiences with others within a peer education framework (Frawley, Barrett, & Dyson, 2012).
- Research has identified five key components that build the capacity for sites to work with this model and that can underpin its successful implementation (Frawley & Anderson, 2014, p. 17):
- Champions and drivers including program partners and partner organisations who understand the need for such a model and are committed to overcoming some of the barriers which may make its development difficult.
- Recognition that people with intellectual disabilities need to be taken account of and included in violence and abuse prevention work and should be at the centre of this work.
- Building the model and program delivery into the ‘core business’ of partner organisations – linking it to the broader work of these organisations.
- Cross sector collaboration (disability and community) and sharing of resources and expertise.
- Having a strong foundation to build the model on evidence through prior experience in working collaboratively for inclusion (disability, gender, culture).
- You can learn more about our research here.
SL&RR thrives in strong partnerships between the program and the local community. The role of Program Partners and Partner Organisations are vital to creating this network. Creating strong cross-sector connections is key to the sustainability and longevity of a local site. We are seeing an emerging capacity to bring expertise back to more diverse communities.
“I feel proud of this, after this training, I have been really able to talk to people with disability. Normally if you don’t involve in things, you don’t know what it is, and like now, even most of the time I talk about this before in my community, or most of the African community, having disabilities is like a curse or whatever. So after here, it’s like, OK, so we are here… And not only here; honestly, I’m doing it with groups and other things, that I’m in, this is very good. They have the right to do whatever they can do. Like they belong. So with this program, I have learned a lot, and it has given me more courage.” SL&RR Program Partner
Program Partners are a key part of the SL&RR model. They work with Peer Educators to deliver the program and facilitate the network in local sites. Program Partners recognise the work of SL&RR as key to their own role as professionals in areas including health promotion, public health, violence and abuse, women’s health, sexual health, youth work, disability advocacy and so on.
I remember one moment when one lady when we were training looked up and saw the story and I’d just done a heap of talking and she just looked up and goes, “That woman, in the story, she’s got my hair, she’s got my face and she’s talking about my life,” and it was so powerful because I just got what the peer thing is. Like I’d got it, but then I just got it, and it’s like that is why this is so important, because it doesn’t matter how much blahing I do, it’s about that relatability and that person going, “That’s my story. I feel that, I hear that, I know what that is.” SL&RR Peer Educator and Program Partner trainer
The role of the Learning Partner is to support someone who is participating in the program. Resourcing people who are existing supporters in someone’s life can help people feel supported and maximise their learnings. It is also a way of enabling change in people’s lives, as those who support them can also access information about rights and support services. The SL&RR National team is working with cohealth to further explore the role and potential for Learning Partners in the SL&RR model.
At the centre of the SL&RR model is the belief that things which are done about people with disability should always include people with disability. It also acknowledges that people engage with and learn best from people who they identify as their peers. The Peer Education concept creates a unique capacity to deliver and enhance the program’s values and key messages. SL&RR has operated as a peer education program since 2009 and we are seeing an increasing use of this approach for and with people with intellectual disability.
“Its about knowing your rights and having a voice. Its about telling people to stand up for yourself and to be safe in your own environment” -Victoria Cini, Peer Educator
Peer education is the delivery approach taken for the SL&RR program. The SL&RR National team, which includes women with an intellectual disability, have developed the current SL&RR program from earlier research and program work. This program is based on the life stories of people with an intellectual disability delivered within a rights context using adult learning principles. The program is co-facilitated by trained Peer Educators and Program Partners who work in their local community-based sites to promote and run the program. Sites are also involved in other activities that relate to sexuality and relationship rights.