Australian government launches campaign aimed at parents and adults to tackle sexual violence rates

Gabrielle Becerra Mellet
The Nightly
Parents are the target of a new consent series aiming to end staggering rates of sexual and gender-based violence in Australia.

Parents are the target of a new consent series aiming to end staggering rates of sexual and gender-based violence in Australia.

The $40 million campaign launched by the Federal Government on Sunday is branded with the catchphrase “consent can’t wait” and backed by high-profile activists Chanel Contos and Daniel Principe.

One in five women and one in 16 men report experiencing sexual violence since the age of 15, with more than half of women in their 20s also having experienced a form of sexual violence.

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But targeted ads will strike at the heart of parents, caregivers, coaches and teachers — based on research that says half of all adults are conflicted about the meaning of consent.

Educational videos will be rolled out across TV and social media platforms around the country asking if parents don’t know the answer, “How will our kids?”

Guides for adults on how to speak about consent with children and young people are also included, urging the older generation to “check their understanding”.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, August 2, 2023. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas NO ARCHIVING
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the campaign was part of the Government’s commitment to end gender-based violence. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth says it is a bid from the Government to encourage more conversations about consent, especially between adults.

“It’s something many of us aren’t talking about at all, because it might feel uncomfortable and awkward,” she said.

“Learning about consent isn’t just about reducing harm, it is about providing the next generation with skills to have safe, healthy relationships for life.”

According to a 2021 national survey on attitudes towards violence against women, 20 per cent of young people believed that on many occasions when a woman had said they’d been raped, the woman had actually “led the man on and had regrets”.

Calls to end sexual and gender-based violence have reached boiling point across the country in recent months which saw thousands of protesters take to the streets demanding the Federal Government acknowledge the crisis.

Founder of Teach Us Consent Chanel Contos is featured in the Government’s new consent campaign.
Founder of Teach Us Consent Chanel Contos is featured in the Government’s new consent campaign. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos — who sparked a national debate when she called for better consent education in schools — said parents needed to step up and have regular conversations with their children.

“It’s important for parents to speak to other parents about consent because we are trying to create a generational cultural shift so that normalised sexual violence does not exist in Australia anymore,” she said.

“In order for that to happen, we need as many hands on deck as possible.”

A key message includes the impact of pornography on sexual relationships, which youth advocate Daniel Principe says is a threat to understanding consent.

Youth advocate and educator Daniel Principe.
A key message includes the impact of pornography on sexual relationships, which youth advocate Daniel Principe says is a threat to understanding consent. Credit: Supplied

“Pornography can reinforce this idea of male dominance and control over women,” he said.

“A lot of pornography doesn’t feature consent, and violence and aggression in pornography is overwhelmingly directed at women.”

The Government has said it will invest $6.5 million into a pilot of age-restrictive technology aiming to protect children from pornography and other harmful online content.

In 2021, the then Government faced heat over an educational video which attempted to explain consent through milkshake and ice cream analogies.

It was dubbed “nonsensical” and “way off the mark” by experts and was later withdrawn altogether.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Sexual Assault Resource Centre 24-hour crisis line 1800 199 888

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