Australia

Schools in Australia to be provided with sexual consent education materials in coming weeks

Australian schools will soon be provided with more material about consent, respectful relationships and sexual abuse for students from prep to year 12.

Former Sydney school student Chanel Contos, 22, has launched a petition called Teach Us Consent, which advocates for earlier and improved sex education.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge says he admires the courage of Ms Contos and others who have shared stories after being encouraged by her petition.

“I’ve got to say I’ve been quite shocked at the extent of the number of people who are coming forward,” he told Sky News on Thursday.

The petition has sparked almost 3000 testimonies from women who experienced sexual abuse or misconduct at school.

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Mr Tudge said the federal government would in coming weeks nationally distribute Respect Matters, a suite of education material.

It will include information about respectful relationships, consent and sexual abuse.

“This is an issue for the entire community to do better at,” Mr Tudge said.

The government is under immense pressure over the treatment of women after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped by a colleague in a minister’s office.

Ms Higgins coming forward triggered national debate about sexual assault and the workplace culture inside Parliament House.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also refusing to launch an independent inquiry into rape allegations against Attorney-General Christian Porter from when he was at high school.

Mr Porter emphatically denies the alleged incident happened and is now on mental health leave.

Ms Contos’ petition has garnered more than 30,000 signatures and prompted states to review education about sexual consent.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Beyondblue.org.auEmbrace Multicultural Mental Health supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

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