Students show Every Step Counts

A new exhibition exploring issues such as domestic violence, respectful relationships and gender equality has opened at NSW Parliament House. Alyssa Terese reports.

A montage of photos including art works and a man speaking at a lectern. A montage of photos including art works and a man speaking at a lectern.
Image: Some of the featured works in the Every Step Counts exhibition. Bottom right: Every Step Counts Program Manager Dale Palmer.

Primary and high school students from 28 public schools across NSW have created 99 thought-provoking submissions for the inaugural Every Step Counts Poetry and Art Exhibition at NSW Parliament House.

The powerful exhibition is open to public viewing until 26 October and showcases the works of more than 300 students who have completed the Every Step Counts respectful relationships program, highlighting their insights into domestic violence, respectful relationships and gender equality.

Every Step Counts is a public school education program covering challenging topics such as positive self-image, reducing violence-supportive attitudes and behaviours, making ‘good choices’, gender bias in the media and social media, consent and pornography.

Department of Education Acting Deputy Secretary School Performance South, Deb Summerhayes, said the exhibition provided students with an important creative outlet to explore challenging and relevant themes.

“Displayed at the exhibition are 54 artworks and 46 poems that are thoughtful, imaginative, creative representations of children and young peoples’ experiences, feelings and views on family, friendship and community and representations of hopes for a society that is fairer, kinder and promotes respectful relationships at all levels,” Ms Summerhayes said.

“By continuously fostering awareness and promoting respectful relationships across generations and imparting knowledge about gender equity our students, teachers and leaders in schools work towards building a brighter future.”

Every Step Counts Program Manager and former principal of Endeavour Sports High School, Dale Palmer, said the exhibition also underscored the importance of primary prevention and generational change.

“This exhibition is not so much about what public education students know about respectful relationships, but more about how they truly feel about the issues of domestic violence, consent, pornography and gender equality,” Mr Palmer said.

“As adults we must listen, and this is what this exhibition is about and why it’s so important.”

Mr Palmer has delivered the Every Step Counts program in schools since 2019, with more than 120 metro and regional schools benefiting from the student, staff and parent-focused workshops.

“No matter location or socio-economic status, the areas in need of discussion are the same in every school,” he said.

“The program ensures that students, staff and parents are having the difficult conversations and destigmatising important topics to empower students to challenge issues and lead change.”

The exhibition is open to the public at NSW Parliament House on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

For those unable to attend the exhibition in person, the Parliament has created a virtual art exhibition which can be accessed at

Visitors are advised the exhibition contains content relating to domestic violence. See below for available support services:

  • 1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732

  • Women's Crisis Line: 1800 811 811

  • Lifeline (24-hour crisis line): 131 114

  • Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

  • Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491

  • NSW Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463

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