Rape prevention campaigners have slammed the Morrison government’s “confusing” new consent education campaign for schools featuring bizarre videos of a woman smearing a man’s face with a milkshake.
Warning the videos fail to meet the National Standards for the prevention of sexual assault through education, advocates say expert revision of all of the current content is needed to ensure it actually works, and isn’t harmful.
The consent videos include “examples” of a woman being concerned about swimming in a beach because of sharks and a man with a spear gun trying to convince her to get in the water, and in another using an example of a man eating a tacos to explain sexual assault.
Fair Agenda and End Rape on Campus Australia’s Karen Willis told news.com.au the government’s newly released school resources are concerning and confusing.
“Young people are more sophisticated than this content gives them credit for. And sex and consent is far more complicated than videos about milkshakes and sharks at the beach,” Ms Willis, a prevention educator with 30 years experience, said.
“These resources fall well short of the national standards, and what experts know is needed to actually change behaviours and prevent abuse.”
End Rape on Campus founder, Sharna Bremner, said another major concern was the videos might re-traumatise rape survivors in the classroom.
“We know that in classrooms of senior students, there will be many who have already experienced rape,” she said.
“This resource fails to properly consider there may be a survivor in the classroom, and even includes inaccurate and inadequate information on avenues for support and reporting.” .
The resources were launched by Education Minister Alan Tudge last month and followed Brittany Higgins’s allegation of a rape at Parliament House and the national outcry that followed.
Former Sydney school student Chanel Contos, 22, has also launched a petition called Teach Us Consent, calling for earlier and improved sex education.
Fair Agenda and End Rape on Campus Australia are calling for the government to engage violence prevention experts to replace the site’s modules on consent and to review all content to ensure it meets the National Standards — including challenging the gender stereotypes that help enable gender-based violence.
Ms Bremner said: “Young people want and deserve training that practically and explicitly helps them understand how to ethically navigate relationships, and to recognise — and feel armed to challenge — unacceptable or coercive behaviour. As well as how to navigate non-verbal cues. It’s clear these resources weren’t written by people with expertise in violence prevention.”
Advocates say there are multiple issues with the Good Society site’s content, including:
• A bizarre ‘Yes No I Don’t Know’ video about going into water with sharks
• Often, instead of directly addressing the kind of behaviours a student is actually likely to be trying to navigate, the site provides confusing videos, including about milkshakes and tacos.
• Includes concerning messages like ‘sexual desire can really distort our thinking’
• Provides incorrect and inadequate information about abuse.
“We need to actively challenge the notion that sex is about men pursuing women and persisting until they relent. We need to set an expectation that everyone should be seeking affirmative, enthusiastic and informed consent, and arming young people to understand consent is not just a once-off yes/no conversation. It needs to be present the whole time,” Ms Bremner said.
Renee Carr, executive director of Fair Agenda, said despite the Morrison Government’s claim the program has been developed in conjunction with Our Watch and the Foundation for Young Australians, this was not the case.
Ms Carr said Our Watch did not help develop these resources.
Along with other organisations Our Watch was engaged to consult on a confidential basis and she said was unable to share the advice they provided to the department on the creation of these materials.
“We need national investment to ensure the people we’re asking to stand up and act as an authority, and to drive these important but awkward conversations, are appropriately trained and delivering content that will actually work,” she said.