Sex and consent education peer-created for Aussie teens


A new approach to teach Australian school children about sex and consent using content and resources produced by their peers will form part of a $83 million consent education funding plan to be rolled out in schools across the country.

The plan comes after several false starts and flawed approaches including a government-funded video on sharing milkshakes that was panned by states and community groups in 2021.

"We've seen what happens when governments take on consent education without consultation. We get ads about milkshakes," Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth told reporters on Friday.

"If we don't co-design our campaigns with our target audience, we're not going to reach them."

The new approach includes a $3.5 million investment in advocacy group Teach Us Consent to deliver relevant and evidence-based resources to young people about healthy relationships, sex and consent.

Teach Us Consent stems from an Instagram campaign in 2021 to address sexual violence in NSW schools after thousands of women and girls shared stories of their assaults as students.

"It's really important that that message about positive attitudes and positive consent education is done well and done through the channels where young people are accessing," Ms Rishworth said.

Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos said part of the funding would be used to create social media messaging as well as a youth advisory group that would liaise with government and hopefully bridge the gap between young people and policymakers.

"We're using crazy metaphors and pretending that young people aren't mature enough to engage in these conversations, despite what they're saying on their screens," she said.

The youth-led expert advisory group will provide advice on how to effectively engage young people on consent and sexual violence prevention.

Ms Contos, whose advocacy in 2021 led to her being awarded the Young People's Australian Human Rights Medal, said young people need to have their voices and experiences reflected in the messages they receive about what consent means and what behaviour is acceptable.

Funding would go towards producing nuanced peer-created social media content relevant to young people and using real-life scenarios and situations, she said.

Ms Rishworth said the federal government had committed a $589 million boost to women's safety, building upon the $1.7 billion provided in last October's budget to ensure there is a national plan to end violence against women and children. 

"This will have a really important impact and hopefully will start to see those rates of sexual harm which are particularly high and prevalent in young people start to decline," she said. 

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