Pupils in the Australian state of Victoria will be taught about "male privilege" and shown images of men cleaning dishes and women playing football in a drive to break gender stereotypes and reduce domestic violence.

The "respectful relationship" curriculum, to be introduced next year in Melbourne and the rest of the state, has been criticised for "indoctrinating" children.

Pupils aged six to eight will chant statements such as "girls can be doctors and can be strong" and "boys can cry when they are hurt, can be gentle, can be nurses and can mind babies".

Students in the early secondary years will be taught about male privilege, or "automatic, unearned benefits bestowed upon dominant groups" based on gender, sexuality, race and class.


The authorities have struggled to address high rates of domestic violence. About one in four Australian women aged 15 and above has experienced at least one incident of violence from a partner. But critics said the programme was ideological and seemed to assume that "all men" are bad. "The idea behind this program - that all men are latent abusers by nature of the 'discourse' - is an idea that only cloistered feminist academics could love," Dr Jeremy Sammut, from the Centre for Independent Studies, a libertarian think tank, told The Australian.

"A lot of evidence suggests that like child abuse, domestic -violence is a by-product of social dysfunction: welfare, drugs, family breakdown."

Defending the programme, James Merino, Victoria's state education minister, said: "It's astounding anyone could think teaching our kids about respect for other people is a bad thing."