Australia’s Consent Education Is Striving To Be The Best In The World
Over the past year stories of sexual assault and harassment have thrown consent laws into the spotlight.
From 2023 Australian schools will now be required to teach consent education from the first year of school to Year 10.
“The Australian curriculum only gets reviewed once every five years. So, I knew that if it didn’t go through this review, it couldn’t happen for another five years.”
“And then by the time it was announced… I was literally just like, yes, we can celebrate with everyone now. And they’ve said it publicly, so they can’t go back on it,” said Chanel Contos, Founder of Teach Us Consent.
A Look Back On Chanel’s Activism
Chanel Contos’ activism unintentionally started in February 2021 after a viral Instagram poll.
“I was furious the night I posted that story. Cause I was speaking to another friend about a sexual assault that happened to them that I witnessed and stopped.”
“I feel like it didn’t take any courage because I didn’t realise how far it would go. Like when I was starting to get like 20,000 views of my stories, I was like, what is going on?”
This response inspired Chanel to fight for national mandatory consent education laws, through her lobbying group Teach Us Consent.
What The Curriculum Changes
Chanel has looked closely at other curriculums around the world and said that this new curriculum is powerful because it builds on concepts of gender from a young age before bringing in concepts of sexual consent.
Many organisations in Australia have been lobbing for this for decades.
“They have research, they know best practice. They’ve also been key stakeholders in formulating this curriculum. I think it was just the catalyst of those 6,700 people speaking up that gave power to all the people who have been asking for this for years,” said Chanel.
Chanel met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the first time this week and her next goal is a national survey that captures the experiences of high school students.
“We need to start measuring the impact that this consent education’s going to have, especially if we wanted to improve it. If we want to be a country that other people look to for best practice, we need to make sure that it is doing its job.”
Chanel believes, “in order to do that, we need to start understanding the attitudes, beliefs, and experiences of young people, especially teenagers.”
“And if we continue to speak up and continue to change the microaggressions all the way to the macro, we will have a cultural shift in not long. And that’s pretty exciting.”