“We did it”: Consent education made compulsory in Australian schools

Image via @chanelc/Instagram

Words by Gabrielle O’Hagan

The change we needed is finally here.

In a landmark decision today, education ministers from around Australia agreed to make consent education compulsory in all schools nationwide. A mandatory consent curriculum will be implemented from 2023 for all school-age students spanning from foundation level up until year 10.

The curriculum will have age-appropriate content, but it will also be holistic, addressing a variety of issues around consent, including sexual assault, power imbalances, coercion and gender stereotypes.

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Sexual consent is a sensitive but important topic that, up until now, has been severely lacking in Australian schools. Although consent education was already compulsory for public schools in some states, including Victoria and Queensland, it was not mandatory for private schools.

Consent education is the key to reducing incidences of sexual assault and gendered violence. This problem was highlighted a year ago by Chanel Contos, an Australian university student and consent activist. Contos posted an Instagram poll in February 2021, asking her followers whether they had ever been sexually assaulted by someone attending an all-boys school, and received an overwhelming and resounding ‘yes’ from the majority of her respondents.

This harrowing response ultimately led to Contos launching the Teach us Consent campaign. She created a website that allowed survivors of sexual assault to submit anonymous testimonials of their experiences and began a petition advocating for better and more holistic sexual consent education in Australian schools. Her petition has been signed over 44,000 times.


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A post shared by CHANEL ⋆ (@chanelc)

“Today marks exactly one year since we launched a petition demanding for earlier and more holistic consent education to be mandated in Australian schools,” Chanel said in an Instagram post today. “After over 44,000 signatures, more than 6,700 testimonies of sexual assault, and countless hours of volunteer work and support, we are very happy to announce that we did it.”

The change will impact generations of students to come.

For more information on the Teach Us Consent campaign, head here.

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