New consent classes starting from kindy
The Federal Government has revealed its new education program for primary and secondary schools to teach students across Australia about respectful relationships and consent.
It comes after the education sector was rocked earlier this year by a viral petition launched by a former Sydney school student, Chanel Contos, that exposed the prevalence of sexual violence experienced by teenage girls.
In response, Education Minister Alan Tudge last month promised to provide more support for sex education and slammed the current culture as "unacceptable".
Today, the government has launched the Good Society website, which is part of its Respect Matters program, and it includes more than 350 videos, digital stories, podcasts and other learning materials on topics including respect, consent and peer group pressure.
The resources have been tailored to students' ages, and schools can make their own decisions about which they use in their classrooms. Parents will also be able to access the site.
The program starts with teaching the basic principles of respectful relationships in children as young as four and five in kindergarten.
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"The content supports students to develop new friendship groups, negotiate the shared spaces and property of the school and develop the skills required to interact respectfully with others," according to the website. By years 3 and 4, students learn more about stereotypes and discriminatory behaviour. In the final years of primary school, students are taught about "ethical choices".
Lessons about abuse and violence against girls and women are introduced from year 7, with topics of relationships and power dynamics.
Intimate relationships, sexual consent, break ups and sexting feature in resources aimed at years 10 to 12.
High school seniors will be taught how to have "free and equal relationships" - looking at three specific areas - consent, influences and situations.
Students are taught the difference between "Yes", "No", and "I Don't Know" in a sexual setting. They also look at "influences" such as power, technology, alcohol and gender, to see how a relationship can be "distorted" and the power balance can change.
Students are also asked to act out and think about consent and respect in situations like parties and festivals, sexting, and when breaking up.
None of the lessons are mandatory, but they are aligned with the Australian Curriculum, which already incorporates the topic of consent into health and physical education lessons. This curriculum is currently subject to a review.
Mr Tudge said the program was a positive step, but there was more work to be done.
"These materials will provide additional support to better educate young Australians on these issues and have been designed to complement programs already being offered by states and territories," he said in a statement to The Australian.
"I will be discussing these matters further with my state and territory counterparts when we meet later this month."
Originally published as New consent classes starting from kindy