Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships (previously Living Safer Sexual Lives: Respectful Relationships or LSSL:RR) was a program for talking and learning about sexuality and relationship rights, sexual health, and violence and abuse prevention. SL&RR was centred around the real-life stories of people with intellectual disability, delivered by and for people with intellectual disability (Peer Educators), in partnership with local community and health professionals (Program Partners).
Together Peer Educators and Program Partners formed local networks to promote and deliver the SL&RR program and build connections with other local advocacy, community and women’s health or abuse prevention work.
SL&RR reflects best practice in violence and abuse prevention and inclusion. The SL&RR model is based on the work of the World Health Organisation which informs domestic policy in Australia including the Second National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, under which SL&RR was previously funded. People with intellectual disability engage in all levels of the model drive its ongoing development.
SL&RR challenges the gendered and ableist stereotypes, systems, beliefs and behaviours that underpin violence and abuse in relationships. The SL&RR model articulates how the program operates at individual, community and system wide levels to prevent violence and abuse in relationships and to promote sexuality rights for people with intellectual disability.
There are four key elements of the SL&RR model:
- Peer education by people with intellectual disability
- Supporting change in relationships through learning partnerships and adult education principles
- Sector development through partnerships with community organisations
- Systemic change through research, evaluation and translation of outcomes
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.
“It’s about knowing your rights and having a voice. It’s about telling people to stand up for yourself and to be safe in your own environment,”
Victoria Cini, Peer Educator
Learning Partners are existing supporters in someone’s life can help people maximise and generalise their learning over time. Learning Partners represent a way of enabling change in people’s lives, as those who support them can also access information about rights and support services.
SL&RR builds on, and facilitates, strong partnerships between the program and the local community. 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.
“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 work within Partner Organisations who 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.
Research & Evaluation
Research and evaluation is a key element of the SL&RR model. Research into the SL&RR program has examined how the model works to effectively connect participants with mainstream services and build the capacity of these services to support people.