Consent education will be made compulsory in all Australian schools, after state and federal ministers unanimously agreed to enshrine it in the curriculum.
- The new curriculum will incorporate consent education, including an understanding of gender stereotypes, coercion and power imbalances
- Education ministers to meet in April to finalize new compulsory subject
- A petition calling for change has been overwhelmed with signatures and stories of sexual assault
Representing the Minister of Education, Senator Jonathon Duniam confirmed the change in the Senate estimates on Thursday.
Chanel Contos, an alumnus of a private school in Sydney, is one of the women behind the push to make consent a compulsory subject in the classroom.
In February 2021, Ms Contos surveyed her Instagram followers and asked if they or anyone close to them had been sexually assaulted by someone while at school.
After more than 200 people answered ‘yes’ in just 24 hours, Ms Contos launched an online petition calling for more holistic and earlier consent education in Australia.
The petition has since garnered 44,000 signatures, with more than 6,600 people sharing their stories of sexual assault.
On Instagram, Ms Contos celebrated the announcement.
“This monumental change was only made possible by the tens of thousands of voices supporting this movement,” she wrote.
Ms Contos wrote that the new curriculum would include “comprehensive consent education”, including an understanding of gender stereotypes, coercion and power imbalances.
Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek took to Twitter to congratulate Ms Contos and her organization, Teach Us Consent.
Education ministers are due to meet in April to finalize the new curriculum, which is expected to be taught from the 2023 school year.
Earlier this month, Federal Education Minister Stuart Robert said ministers were still discussing issues related to maths, humanities and social sciences.
However, he said, there was “unanimous agreement” in all jurisdictions on the need to include consent-based education in the health and physical education curriculum.