Embedding consent education into the curriculum

Tuesday, 21 September, 2021

Embedding consent education into the curriculum

A roundtable discussion is due to be held about how best to teach respectful relationships, sex and consent within schools.

Teach Us Consent, led by Chanel Contos, will be hosting the roundtable event, which will include key ministers and stakeholders.

Our Watch, a national leader in the prevention of violence against women, will also be part of the discussion, alongside Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek, among others.

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said that while consent education should be a critical component of the National Curriculum, specific lessons on consent should be contextualised within a broader program of teaching and learning about gender equality and respectful relationships.

“The evidence is clear that best practice respectful relationships education not only includes age- and stage-appropriate information on sex and consent but also uses a whole-of-school approach that addresses the gendered drivers of violence against women,” she said.

“Violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it is a result of drivers of this abuse which include the condoning of violence towards women, rigid gender stereotypes and male relationships and peer friendships that emphasise disrespect towards women.

“Respectful relationships education should not be a one-off lesson or program, it should go beyond what is taught in the classroom to look at school cultures, structures and policies to ensure they promote and support gender equality for students, teachers and the wider community.”

Kinnersly said the evidence shows that rolling out respectful relationships education in all primary and secondary schools across Australia will contribute to preventing violence against women.

“We know that school is a key setting for primary prevention work because it provides an opportunity to reach children during their early development to help shape their attitudes, beliefs and behaviour around gender and respect.

“This education in equality and respect continues to be crucial for adolescents who are experiencing their first intimate relationships.

“Chanel Contos’s campaign for consent education to be embedded in the National Curriculum has bravely surfaced the importance of talking to young people about how to engage in respectful and equal relationships so we can stop instances of sexual assault, harassment and disrespect towards young women from happening in the first place.

“If we want to take this seriously, and the message from the community over the year has been a resounding YES on this issue, we must support children and young people to build knowledge and skills needed to have healthy and equal relationships, which includes how to have important conversations about consent.

“We need to continue to roll out respectful relationships education across the country, so that everyone, regardless of where they live, their age, background or culture, can grow up and live free from disrespect and violence.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/loran4a

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