Mates and Dates relationship workshop on

A programme which promotes healthy relationships to high school pupils starts this term.

Otepoti Collective Against Sexual Abuse (Ocasa) will run ACC’s Mates and Dates programme for years 9-13 pupils in terms 3 and 4.

Ocasa sexual violence prevention programme co-ordinator Hazel Potterton said seven Otago schools had already signed up, and there was plenty of room for more.

The programme is about creating healthy relationships and will be delivered by experienced leaders, both male and female.

Topics that will be covered include consent, identifying unhealthy relationships and knowing when to safely intervene if someone is in trouble.

Ms Potterton said the programme was "skills-based" and "positively-framed".

"It’s just supporting young people to have healthy relationships and negotiate them, and to recognise when something’s maybe not quite right," she said.

The same programme will be taught at boys’, girls’ and co-educational schools.

The organisation has also potentially found a new education and administration space, after putting the call out earlier this month.

Demand for the sexual abuse service had increased since lockdown, leaving the organisation "desperate" for new staff.

But there was no room for them in the Moray Pl office.

Ms Potterton said it was a "relief" to be able to expand and new qualified, experienced staff were being sought.

The group was looking out for new office equipment, such as desks and chairs.

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