Two Australian commissioners will oversee a survey of secondary school students on their attitudes surrounding consent as part of a wider funding package to prevent family, domestic and sexual violence and to intervene earlier.
National children’s commissioner Anne Hollonds and sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins will oversee the survey, with Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos appointed as a special adviser.
Contos launched a petition last year drawing nearly 45,000 signatories wanting consent education to occur earlier in schools. Her website features more than 6500 anonymised testimonies about young peoples’ experiences with consent across the nation’s schools.
The Australian Human Rights Commission will collect information about the extent of secondary students’ consent education. It will also survey students’ understanding and experience of sexual harassment and how it is reported.
The findings will form the benchmark to gauge the impact of consent education in a revised Australian curriculum, which is expected to be rolled out nationally from 2023.
Acting federal education minister Stuart Robert said the $5 million spent on the survey would lead to practical advice for teachers and officials to strengthen consent and respectful relationships programs to align with government directions.
“It will also further inform the government’s work on respectful relationships and national prevention strategies on a range of issues,” Robert said.
The funding is part of a wider commitment worth $189 million the federal government is using to strengthen prevention and early intervention programs.
The majority, $104 million over five years, will go to primary prevention organisation Our Watch – the biggest investment the government has made in the organisation.
It will use the money to drive change in the corporate sector, provide campaigns and resources that raise awareness about gendered violence, and develop safety programs used in TAFEs, universities, the media, workplaces and sports organisations.
Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly said Our Watch was seeing “record demand” and enthusiasm from institutions and people to be part of change.
“In addition to prevention services, we’ll also develop and share new primary prevention knowledge, policy, practice and campaigns, allowing us to reach more people directly, and to support and work with others in the sector to extend their community reach and impact too,” Kinnersly said.
“By working in partnership with the government, the sector, community groups and all Australians, we can, and we will, achieve our vision to end violence against women.”