Profile image of Debbie Ollis

A/Prof. Debbie Ollis



Associate Professor of Education (Health & Physical Education)


Faculty of Arts and Education


SoE Arts & Ed


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Doctor of Philosophy, La Trobe University, 2008
Master of Education, University of Melbourne, 1995

+61 3 924 46409


I have a long history in the Health and Physical Education (HPE) field, having worked as teacher; curriculum consultant; policy officer; teacher educator; curriculum writer and researcher.  

My teaching and research intersect in the area of gender, equity, sexuality and relationships education and wellbeing.  I am a feminist qualitative researcher interested in capacity building in sexuality and relatioships education, pedagogy, teacher practice and professional learning, particularly as it relates to issues in health and sexuality and relationships education. However, I also work in teams that utlise quantatative methods.  I have excellent networks and knowledge of schools, school systems and NGOs in these areas. As principal author of two Australian government funded national school based frameworks, The Gender and Violence Position Paper (1993) and Talking Sexual Health National Framework for Education about STI’s, HIV/AIDS and Blood-Bourne Viruses in Secondary Schools (1999), I have an excellent working knowledge of national policy developments in the field and the needs and parameters of teaching professional development in the area. My ability to liaise and collaborate with industry was  recognized when I received the Faculty of Arts/Education Award for Industry Collaboration Research (2013).

A key strength lies in my ability to translate research  into practice  through curriculum development and teacher professional learning, having written or co-written a number of nationally recognized teaching and learning and professional development resources in line with state and national curriculum guidelines and current research (Standing Strong 1991; No Fear, 1995; Talking Sexual Health, 2000, 2001; Catching On, 2004; 2014; Building Respectful Relationships: Stepping Out Against Gender Based Violence, 2014).

I have a national and international reputation for my work in sexuality and relationships education, evidenced by invitations to consult on the Australian Curriculum; national reference group in Sexuality Education; Our Watch. I have also been funded to present keynotes at international (and national) conferences (HEIA 2017, Curtin University 2015; ACHPER 2015; Brunel University, 2014; Hong Kong University 2010) and invited to review for local and international journals and grant applications.

My doctoral research  focused on change in teacher practice to build knowledge, skills and confidence to address inclusively, gender and sexuality.  Aspects of this research has been published  (AARE 2004,  Journal of Home Economics Institute of Australia, 2005; Sex Education, 2010; Routledge 2013).  I also received an Outstanding Thesis Merit Award’ for doctoral thesis completed in 2007 (Latrobe University Faculty of Health Sciences). 

I have secured funding to research capacity building in sexuality and relationships education, respectful relationships and gender based violence education (including pornography education); young people's views of sexuality education and developing teaching and learning approaches in schools and in Universities. Publications related to this work have appeared in book chapters (Pelgrave 2016; Springer 2015; Routledge 2013), Journals (Health Education Research 2014; Health Education 2015; Sex Education 2015) and two monographs (Sexuality Education Matters 2013; Building Capacity in Sexuality Education the Northern Bay Experience 2012). Current funded projects are Building Respectful Relationship in Women’s Cricket; Respectful Relationships Education in  Schools; Docs and Teens and Engaging Young People in Sexuality Education: ARC funded with Uni SA.

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Biography summary

Debbie Ollis is an Associate Professor in Education at Deakin University where she teaches and researches in the fields of gender, respectful relationships and  sexuality education. Debbie has worked in the health and sexuality education field for over 30 years as a secondary school teacher, policy officer, curriculum consultant, curriculum writer, teacher educator and researcher. She has co-authored two national frameworks in the area and written curriculum resources for state and federal governments. Most recently she has written a respectful relationships curriculum for Victorian secondary schools and coauthored a sexuality education monograph for Universities. Her research is focused on capacity building in health and sexuality education, teacher education, gender and violence education and young people’s experience of school based sexuality education. Debbie is currently involved in number of projects in these areas, including an ARC linkage project researching young people’s experience and voice in sexuality education

Research interests

Much of my research interest fall under the broad area of young people, gender, health, sexuality education and student particpation and well being. I am interested in capacity building, pedagogy, teacher practice and professional learning, particularly as it relates to sensitive issues in health and sexuality education.

My research has focused on

  • Young womens understanding of violence against women 
  • Capacity building in sexuality education with a particular focus on teacher practice and professional learning in the area of gender and sexual diversity
  • Holistic health and physical education intervention on adolescent girls connectedness and wellbeing
  • Professional learning on pre-service teachers ability and preparedness to teach sexuality education 
  • Engaging young people in sexuality education 
  • Respectful relationship education and whole school change; 

I am a qualitative feminist researcher interested in mix methods and the link between research and practice.



American Association of School Health
Association of Women Educators
Australian Association of Research in Education
Health and Physical Education Tertiary Teachers Alliance: Victoria
International Union for Health Promotion and Education

Teaching interests

Sexuality education, gender, health and student wellbeing. Feminist qualatative methods.

Units taught

Deakin University 2006-2017

Units taught and Chaired

  • Promoting Student Wellbeing: Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Education (2005-2012)
  • Issues in Health Education Bachelor of Teaching /Bachelor of Education/Graduate Diploma of Education (2006-2012
  • Senior Health and Human Development: Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Education/Graduate Diploma of Education (2006-2015) Primary Health and Student Wellbeing: Bachelor of Education primary (2009)
  • Teaching Sexuality in the Middle Years: Bachelor of Education primary (2009/2017) Bachelor of Health and Physical Education (2011-2017)
  • Promoting Student Wellbeing: Masters of Teaching (2010-2012)
  • Independent Project: Bachelor of Early Childhood (2010)
  • Masters research paper supervision (2009)
  • PhD supervision (2010-2017)

Knowledge areas

Sexuality  education; Health Education; Gender and sexuality;  Young people and sexual health; Respectful Relationships Education (Gender and violence education); Teacher professional learning in health and sexuality education; Holistic approaches to health and physical education; Research into practice in sexuality and health education.


Recent Invited keynotes/seminars

  • Ollis D.  (2017) Domestic violence—The hidden borders: HEIA National Conference, Rydes Hotel, Melbourne, January 11, 2017.
  • Ollis D.  (2016) Sex Talks@ Fitzroy HS Monday November 14, 2016.
  • Ollis, D. (2016) Sexuality Education: Research into Practice: Northern Territory Festival of Teaching Darwin August 26th.
  • Ollis, D. (2016) Young people, schools and teacher education: A snapshot of researching sex education in Australia. Power, Norms and Identities in Sex Education - International Comparisons: Norrkoping University, June 13-14
  • Ollis, D. (2015) Who said Health and Physical Education Teachers couldn’t teach sexuality education? The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER) Conference: Monash University 27 November
  • Ollis, D. (2015) Building capacity in sexuality and relationships education: What does it take to implement
  • a whole school approach? Growing and Developing Healthy Relationships: Supporting Schools to Deliver effective sexuality and relationships Education (SRE): Curtin University, Perth Oct 26
  • Ollis D. (2015) Health and Physical Education Teachers: can they really be the key to change in sexuality education in secondary schools? Presentation to Western Australian Health Department: Pre-service Teachers symposium, Perth October 27.
  • Ollis D. (2015). Whole School Approaches: Building Respectful Relationships. Sustainable Sexuality and Relationships in Schools and Community settings. Sexuality and Relationships Education Forum, Benalla April 22. 
  • Ollis, D. (2014) Feminist practice in sexuality education: The importance of the ‘gender lens’ in the history of transformative practice.  Association of Women Educators Biennial National Conference Reclaiming Feminism: EnGendering Change, October 3-4, Brisbane
  • Ollis, D. (2014) Respectful relationships and sex education: the importance of parents’ and teachers as part of a whole school approach, Australasian Sexual Health Conference, October 8, Sydney
  • Ollis, D. (2014) Adolescence, sexuality and pornography, Lauriston Parent’s Speaker Series, August 12, Malvern, Melbourne 
  • Ollis, D. (2014) Are We Moving in The Right Direction? An Overview of School Based Education Work in Australia, Challenging Sexual Violence Among Young People Seminar, Brunel University, June 10th
  • Ollis, D. (2014) Mixing and matching feminisms: Does it really matter in the quest to prevent violence against women? Feminist Summer Series Institute of Education: London University May 7th
  • Ollis, D. (2012) Gender and Violence Prevention, AEU Federal Women’s Conference, October 7th, Melbourne
  • Ollis, D. (2011) Capacity Building in Sexuality Education, what does it look like?  Regional CO Early Planning Conference, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victoria, Melbourne, August 2011
  • Ollis, D. (2011) Respectful Relationships: 'Same, Same but different' White Ribbon Day Everyday Conference, Association of Women Educators, Brisbane (May 21, 2011).
  • Ollis, D. (2010) ‘Global Challenges of Adolescent Sexual Health’, 4th Asian Conference on Sexuality Education, Hong Kong, Keynote Address Hong Kong Family Planning Association (August 11-13 2010).

Professional activities

Working Member of:
APC: Deakin.
Sexuality Educators Network: Sexual & Reproductive Health of Young Victorians FPV and Women's Hospital.
Shared Responsibility in Sexual Education: DEECD.
Managing Trustee: King and O'Malley

Media appearances

Recent media citations and interviews 

  • Neo-Marxist feminists send a neutered Trojan Horse into schools to re-engineer our children’s sexuality and social values: Mark Latham The Daily Telegraph, April 26, 2016.
  • Students to study sexualised advertisements in bid to combat family violence: Geelong Advertiser, April 15, 2016 Source:
  • Respectful relationships in schools: ABC Melbourne interview with Rap Epstein Drive program April 14, 2016
  • Sexuality Education: Mornings with Sally Warhaft on 774 ABC Melbourne Monday 11 April, 2016
  • Liberals lash out at domestic violence curriculum over 'sexy freak out' ad: Timna Jacks and Henretia Cooks April 14, 2016
  • Research reveals students want to learn more in sex education classes: Mandy Squires Geelong Advertiser March 17, 2016
  • Safe schools Issues: Tim Webster on Afternoons March 17, 2016
  • Sex education in schools – Red Symons February 18 – ABC 774
  • "We need to have comprehensive sexuality education," says Dr Debbie Ollis from Deakin University #AusPorn #triplejHackHack | triple j - December 8 2015
  • Sex education in schools – Drive Rachel Hunt 774 – December 7 2015  Sexting, porn and raunch to form part of 'respectful relationships' classes Age December 6, 2015
  • Sexting, porn and raunch to form part of 'respectful relationships' classes Age December 6, 2015
  • Respectful Relationships in schools – Raf Epstein 774 Drive Sept 24 2015
  • Should porn be taught in schools? Michael McKenzie Friday 20 March 2015
  • How boys become men in a world of online porn, social media and sexts July 18th 2014. Read more:
  • Tom Elliott, June 14. On today's show –Dr Debbie Ollis on teaching respect in schools
  • Power and gender: how schools are taking a lead in the campaign to end violence against women - See more at:, Citizen Thursday March 13, 2014.


2013: Faculty of Arts and Education Industry Collaboration Research Award Deakin University

2011: Commendation for Excellence in Teaching 2011

2010: Commendation for Excellence in Teaching 2010
2008: Outstanding Thesis Merit Award for doctoral thesis completed in 2007, Latrobe University Faculty of Health Sciences
2001: PhD Scholarship Victorian Health Promotion Foundation
1991: Victorian Home Economics and Textiles Teachers Association Scholarship


  • Ollis, D (2015-16) Capacity building in Sexuality Education: The Northern Bay Experience.
  • Ollis, D (2015) Capacity Building in Respectful Relationships. The Foundation for the Prevention for Violence Against Women and their Children: Our Watch.
  • Ollis, D. (2015). Respectful Relationships Education in Schools Project (RREiS), The Foundation for the Prevention for Violence Against Women and their Children: Our Watch.
  • Hickey, C., Harrison, l., Ollis, D. & Mooney, A. (2014). The Professionalization of Women’s Cricket: New Times and New Opportunities. Funded by Australian Cricketer’s Association (ACA) and Cricket Australia (CA), $25,000.
  • Johnson, B., Harrison, L., Ollis, D., Calabretto, H. McLaughlin, C. & Flentje, J. (2013), ‘Turning them on: engaging young people in disrupting silences about their sexual wellbeing’, ARC Linkage Grant Scheme with UniSA, Deakin University and Shine SA. 
  • Ollis, D. & Harrison, L. (2014 -16). Docs and Teens Health Literacy and Community Access Evaluation. Baron Medicare Local, Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West Inc. & Headspace Geelong.
  • Ollis, D. and Harrison, L. Sexuality Education Matters (SEMS) Developing Pre-service Sexuality Education: DHS (2011-2102)
  • Ollis, D. and Harrison, L. Sexuality Education Community Support Project (SECS) (2010-2015)
  • Ollis, D. and Harrison L. Capacity Building in Health and Sexuality Education: DEECD (2011-2012)
  • Ollis, D. Gender and Violence: Developing Professional Learning: DEECD (2011-2102)
  • Ollis, D. Catching On: Sexuality Education in Secondary School: ARCSHS (2011)
  • Ollis D. and Harrison, L. Exploring the impact of an intensive mode of delivery on students perceptions of preparedness and readiness to teach sexuality education (2010 ongoing)
  • Ollis, D. Gendered Based Violence Demonstration Project Research and development of Secondary School Resources: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victoria and the Centre Against Sexual Assault (2010).


Filter by


Rebel becomings: Queer(y)ing school spaces with young people

Leanne Coll, Debbie Ollis, Briony O?Keeffe

(2020), pp. 54-69, Schools as queer transformative spaces : global narratives on sexualities and genders, Abingdon, Eng., B1


Alignment and political will: upscaling an Australian respectful relationships program

Andrew Joyce, Celia Green, Sarah Kearney, Loksee Leung, Debbie Ollis

(2019), Vol. 34, pp. 892-901, Health promotion international, Oxford, Eng., C1


The influence of contextual factors on implementation fidelity in a whole school approach to prevention of violence against women

Andrew Joyce, Debbie Ollis, Sarah Kearney, Loksee Leung, Emily Foenander

(2019), Vol. 30, pp. 238-245, Health promotion journal of Australia, Clayton, Vic., C1


Negotiating sexuality education with young people: ethical pitfalls and provocations

D Ollis, L Coll, L Harrison

(2019), Vol. 14, pp. 186-202, American journal of sexuality education, London, Eng., C1


Howzat! Navigating gender disruptions in Australian young women's cricket

A Mooney, C Hickey, D Ollis, L Harrison

(2019), Vol. 43, pp. 71-86, Journal of Australian studies, London, Eng., C1


Teaching for gender justice: free to be me?

A Keddie, D Ollis

(2019), Vol. 46, pp. 533-547, Australian educational researcher, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, C1


Media landscapes: 'Meet the maker'- The highs and lows of translating gender and sexuality research into practice

Debbie Ollis

(2019), pp. 47-70, Uplifting gender and sexuality education research, Cham, Switzerland, B1


Resisting ethics over-regulation in research into sexuality and relationships education: insights from an Australian study

B Johnson, L Harrison, D Ollis

(2019), pp. 1-17, Australian Educational Researcher, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, C1


Incidental moments: the paradox of belonging in educational spaces

E Charlton, L Coll, L Harrison, D Ollis

(2018), pp. 31-50, Interrogating belonging for young people in schools, Cham, Switzerland, B1


The power of feminist pedagogy in Australia: vagina shorts and the primary prevention of violence against women

D Ollis

(2017), Vol. 29, pp. 461-475, Gender and education, Abingdon, Eng., C1


Respectful relationships education: a case study of working in schools

D Ollis, S Dyson

(2017), pp. 40-53, Eliminating gender-based violence, London, Eng., B1


'I felt like I was watching porn': the reality of preparing pre-service teachers to teach about sexual pleasure

D Ollis

(2016), Vol. 16, pp. 308-323, Sex education, London, Eng., C1


Lessons in building capacity in sexuality education using the health promoting school framework: from planning to implementation

D Ollis, L Harrison

(2016), Vol. 116, pp. 138-153, Health education, Bingley, Eng., C1


The challenges, contradictions and possibilities of teaching about pornography in sex and relationships education (SRE): the Australian context

D Ollis

(2016), pp. 48-67, Global perspectives and key debates in sex and relationships education : addressing issues of gender, sexuality, plurality and power, London, Eng., B1


Where does violence against women and girls work fit in? Exploring spaces for challenging violence within a sex-positive framework in schools

V Sundaram, C Maxwell, D Ollis

(2016), pp. 68-83, Global perspectives and key debates in sex and relationships education : addressing issues of gender, sexuality, plurality and power, London, Eng., B1


Applying systems theory to the evaluation of a whole school approach to violence prevention

S Kearney, L Leung, A Joyce, D Ollis, C Green

(2016), Vol. 27, pp. 2301-235, Health promotion journal of Australia, Melbourne, Vic., C1


Young people, pleasure, and the normalization of pornography: sexual health and well-being in a time of proliferation?

L Harrison, D Ollis

(2015), pp. 155-167, Handbook of children and youth studies, Singapore, B1


Stepping out of our comfort zones: pre-service teachers' responses to a critical analysis of gender/power relations in sexuality education

L Harrison, D Ollis

(2015), Vol. 15, pp. 318-331, Sex Education, London, Eng., C1


Change in schools it's more like sort of turning an oil tanker : creating readiness for health promoting schools

B Gardner, D Ollis

(2015), Vol. 115, pp. 377-391, Health education, Bingley, Eng., C1


The role of teachers in delivering education about respectful relationships: exploring teacher and student perspectives.

D Ollis

(2014), Vol. 29, pp. 702-713, Health Education Research, Cary, N.C., C1


Planning and delivering interventions to promote gender and sexuality

D Ollis

(2013), pp. 145-161, Bullying: experiences and discourses of sexuality and gender, London, England, B1


I haven't changed bigots but ... : reflections on the impact of teacher professional learning in sexuality education

D Ollis

(2010), Vol. 10, pp. 217-230, Sex education : sexuality, society and learning, Abingdon, England, C1


'Be yourself and have a ball' : using a school and community based health education model to build young women's resilience and connectedness

D Ollis, K Meldrum

(2008), pp. 1-16, AARE 2008 : International Education Research Conference. Changing Climates : Education for Sustainable Futures, Brisbane, Qld., E1


No one is really ugly, there is no ugly : improving body attitudes in adolescent girls

K Meldrum, D Ollis

(2008), pp. 1-3, AARE 2008 : Changing climates : education for sustainable futures, Brisbane, Qld., E1-1


Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Turning them on: Engaging young people in disrupting silences about their sexual wellbeing.

Prof Bruce Johnson, A/Prof Lyn Harrison, A/Prof Debbie Ollis, Dr Helen Calabretto, Prof Colleen McLaughlin, Ms Jane Flentje, Dr Leanne Coll

ARC Linkage - Projects

  • 2014: $25,000
  • 2013: $25,000

Other Public Sector Funding

Evidence based approach to local area capacity building to ensure effective, comprehensive, inclusive sexuality education

A/Prof Debbie Ollis, A/Prof Lyn Harrison

  • 2015: $15,000
  • 2011: $10,000

Research and development of Sexuality Module for Undergraduate Pre-Service Teaching Courses

A/Prof Lyn Harrison, A/Prof Debbie Ollis

  • 2011: $79,640

Respectful Relationships Evidence-Based Training for Specialist Teachers

A/Prof Debbie Ollis

  • 2017: $600
  • 2016: $4,090

Respectful relationships Education (RRE) in Elite Sport.

A/Prof Debbie Ollis, Dr Leanne Coll, Dr Cassandra Iannucci

  • 2019: $87,610

Industry and Other Funding

Turning them on: Engaging young people in disrupting silences about their sexual wellbeing.

Prof Bruce Johnson, A/Prof Lyn Harrison, A/Prof Debbie Ollis, Dr Helen Calabretto, Prof Colleen McLaughlin, Ms Jane Flentje, Dr Leanne Coll

  • 2015: $5,000
  • 2014: $10,000
  • 2013: $10,000

The Professionalisation of Women's Cricket: New times and New opportunities

Prof Chris Hickey, A/Prof Lyn Harrison, A/Prof Debbie Ollis, A/Prof Amanda Mooney

  • 2017: $25,000

Evaluation of Docs 'n' Teens program 2014

A/Prof Lyn Harrison, A/Prof Debbie Ollis

  • 2016: $15,461
  • 2014: $15,461

RREIS Capacity Building Research and Professional Development

A/Prof Debbie Ollis

  • 2016: $6,241
  • 2015: $40,000


Prof Amanda Keddie, A/Prof Debbie Ollis, Ms Maria Delaney

  • 2019: $59,828
  • 2018: $44,742
  • 2017: $30,000

Exploring Respectful Relationships in AFLW

Prof Chris Hickey, A/Prof Amanda Mooney, A/Prof Debbie Ollis

  • 2019: $4,545
  • 2018: $13,636

Developing Supportive Environment for AFLW.

Prof Chris Hickey, A/Prof Amanda Mooney, A/Prof Debbie Ollis

  • 2019: $48,420


Principal Supervisor

Belinda Sue Gardner

Thesis entitled: Creating Readiness for Adopting a Health Promoting Schools Framework

Doctor of Philosophy (Education), School of Education

Associate Supervisor

Susan Bennett

Thesis entitled: Gender Relations in Elite Coeducational Schools

Doctor of Philosophy (Education), School of Education


Linda Keesing-Styles

Thesis entitled: Tertiary Education for Social Justice in an Age of Uncertainty

Doctor of Philosophy (Education), School of Education