Push for National Sexual Consent Approach in Australia

March 19, 2021 Updated: March 19, 2021

A national standard for sexual consent education in schools is needed, the NSW government has said, after thousands of women and girls across the country shared stories of being assaulted as students.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said a national curriculum review currently underway is an opportunity for states and territories to consider how to teach school students about consent.

It comes after a petition of nearly 38,000 signatures calling for change on consent education was started by former Kambala School student Chanel Contos.

The petition is accompanied by thousands of harrowing stories of sexual assault suffered by students—many from private, single-sex schools across Sydney.

Mitchell said a review conducted in 2016-17 by NSW found the state’s syllabus was lacking.

“What became immediately clear was consent did not appear enough in the curriculum. It was not a focus,” she said in a statement.

All NSW students are taught about consent through the curriculum in an age-appropriate way, from kindergarten through to year 12.

That approach is needed nation-wide, she says, and now is the perfect occasion to raise the issue with formal consultation on the national Health and Physical Education curriculum to begin in April.

“Consent needs to be taught early and explicitly,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a conversation with other education ministers about how we better incorporate consent into education and what our standards are.”

By Tiffanie Turnbull