In 2020, WHISE began its partnership with the Department of Education and Training (DET)’s Respectful Relationships area teams, from Bayside Peninsula and Southern Melbourne to establish the Critical Friends Network (CFN). 

Critical Friends Network

The CFN is a group of professionals from our region, who sit in varied professional roles, who have an interest in promoting gender equality. All Critical Friends (CFs) have taken part in the professional development designed by WHISE & DET, which offers them the knowledge and skills on how to support schools in the best practice roll out of a whole of school approach to the Respectful Relationships Initiative.  

In December 2021, WHISE co-facilitated a series of three workshops which represented the third intake of Critical Friends, and as refresher training for existing CFs. The new CFs are now part of the network and are joining forces to work with schools they are paired with.  

Through the Critical Friends model, more support can be targeted to schools according to regional need and workforce make-up.

WHISE, the Preventing Violence Together partnership, DET, schools, school nurses and professionals in our region have all been engaged in this work and the outcomes for this model created by WHISE & DET through in-kind, are impressive.

The success of this work is demonstrated in consistent and sustained high levels of engagement at online events/meetings, substantial growth in the number of active members of the CoPs, broadening of the workforce that attend program CoPs/working groups and forums, and positive feedback in pre and post evaluation.


Project: Critical Friends Network

Net Social Benefit to Community $86,608

Directly delivered to 14 Participants with an estimated impact for 12 months

Benefit Cost Ratio 7.09

Social Impact as calculated through the Australia Social Value Bank for the delivery of the Critical Friends Network.
The values used in this cost benefit analysis have been derived using the wellbeing valuation method from data gathered through the HILDA (Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) and Journeys Home Survey.