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A former Sydney schoolgirl has launched a campaign to teach consent in schools, here’s what you need to know

IMAGE VIA CHANEL CONTOS/INSTAGRAM

Words by Joseph Lew

Make your voice count.

Content warning: Sexual assault

For many of us, the last few weeks have been emotionally-charged. The emergence of historical rape allegations against Christian Porter, the Attorney-General of Australia, has thrown into question the systems that were designed to protect us, and the ways they’ve failed in safeguarding our safety and security.


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Many of us have taken a closer look at Australia’s education sector, examining the ways that we as a society can move forward and create safer environments for future generations. In response, grassroots campaigns have emerged calling for changes to the way the Australian curriculum teaches sex education and demanding a greater emphasis on consent and sex-awareness.

One such petition that has arisen is the Teach Us Consent campaign, which has already garnered more than 30,000 signatures and almost 3,000 written testimonies from former students and victims of sexual assault in Australia.

How did the campaign come about?

The campaign was started by 22-year-old Chanel Contos, a former student of Sydney private school Kambala, in response to the sexism and harassment she experienced while she attended high school. Her experience can be summed up by a statement on the campaign page which reads, “I have lived in three different countries and I have never spoken to anyone who has experienced rape culture the way me and my friends had growing up in Sydney amongst private schools.”

What are the demands of the petition?

The petition advocates for consent and more holistic sex education to be included earlier in the Australian school curriculum. It also calls for greater discourse and conversation around slut shaming, consent, sexual coercion and toxic masculinity within the education system, and that MPs pledge support for sexual assault survivor organisations.

How can I join the campaign? 

At the moment, the campaign is compiling signatures from supporters and written testimonies from victims of sexual harassment in Australian schools. The signatures and the testimonies will then be packaged and presented to MPs around the country.

What are some other ways I can show my concern?

If you jump on the site, you’ll also find email templates that you can use to contact your school community or your local MP to express your concern about the perpetuation of rape culture in Australian schools and to demand greater sexual consent education.

So, where do I sign?

You can add your signature or your testimony to the campaign here.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault you can call national sexual assault counselling service 1800RESPECT, or head to its website for support and advice.

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