Australia to equip schools with educational material on sexual consent
Australian children will soon be given fundamental educational lessons on consent, sexual abuse, and the basics of respectful relationships.
To this end, education minister Alan Tudge, in an interview with Sky News, said that the federal government would in the coming weeks distribute 'Respect Matters', a suite of educational material, in schools across the country.
The move was triggered by a petition launched by 22-year-old Chanel Contos, a former Sydney school student who calls for a more comprehensive sex education curriculum across Australia.
To Contos, the rising number of sexual abuse cases in the country is intrinsically linked to a dearth of elementary education regarding enthusiastic consent, sexual coercion, and slut-shaming, as reflective of the "rape culture" in the society.
The 22-year-old activist has especially been vocal about the cases of sexual assault and rape in Australian schools and has shared thousands of such accounts over the past couple of weeks. Her petition advocating for improved sex education in schools has encouraged several women to actively resist sexual abuse in the workplace and triggered a national debate on substantial measures regarding the same.
The petition, titled 'Teach Us Consent' has already managed to garner more than 30,000 signatures and sparked close to 3,000 testimonies from women who experienced sexual misconduct in schools.
Education minister Tudge, while announcing the government's plans to distribute educational material in schools, also admired the courage of all the activists fighting for the aforementioned cause.
"I've got to say I've been quite shocked at the extent of the number of people who are coming forward," Tudge was quoted as saying.
According to the data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), about one in six girls and one in ten boys face abuse, sexual or otherwise, before the age of 15.
Around 374 juvenile sexual assault cases were reported in New South Wales in 2020, while less than 10% of the rapes reported to the police resulted in a conviction.