In a huge win for everyone, Queensland will be introducing explicit consent education to schools at end of this year. These teachings will be added to a revised version of the Respectful Relationships Education Program (RREP), and come only a few months after Chanel Contos‘ petitions for earlier sex education in schools.
Contos has been petitioning since early February for better consent education in schools, and has also been collecting anonymous testimonies from students who have experienced sexual assault or rape.
Back in March, Education Minister Grace Grace sought out a review of the Respectful Relationships Education Program to ensure that Queensland students were being appropriately educated on consent throughout their younger years of schooling.
This came after a high number of Queensland students made testimonies on Chanel Contos’ website, detailing experiences with rape and sexual assault.
Grace told the ABC that after consulting her Student Advisory Council, she discovered that what young people are after is “explicit, age-appropriate education on consent” and that it needed to start earlier.
“What we’ve found from consultation is that there’s a strong need to build and promote a culture within schools that encourages people to seek help,” Grace said.
According to the ABC, the RREP will be bolstered not only with more explicit consent education for students, but also resources and support for teachers.
The aim here is essentially to create a safe and professional space for students who may want to report instances of sexual assault and rape in schools.
With teachers being more equipped to handle this professionally, it will encourage more students to come forward with their accounts, while also being educated about the various ways that lack of consent can be present in relationships.
“As individual schools are best placed to provide programs, it is highly recommended that every school — state and non-state — have whole-school processes and mechanisms in place for their students to voice their concerns in a safe and supportive environment,” a spokesperson from the Education Department told the ABC.
“Additional information will be provided to parents/carers and students about what is being taught in schools, where to go to make a report of sexual assault, and what happens to these reports after they have been made.”
Rachael Pascua, coordinator of R4Respect, a respectful relationships education program, told the ABC that consent education should begin rather early in a child’s life, but especially around the ages of 10 and 12.
“We believe with consent education it needs to be very clear that we use an affirmative model so that looks at understanding consent both verbally and nonverbally, taking away all the grey areas and what if’s that young people have,” she said.
The revised RREP will be officially released at the end of the year, with plans to be put into practice in 2022. It will be aimed at all students from Prep to Year 10, and ensure that they receive explicit education about consent from an early age.