New campaign to educate Australians about consent

Callum Godde |

The federal government has launched a $40 million campaign to educate Australians about consent.
The federal government has launched a $40 million campaign to educate Australians about consent.

Australians will be prodded to brush up on consent as part of a national push to educate children and end gender-based violence in a generation.

The Albanese government on Sunday launched a 12-month national consent campaign, posing the question “if we don’t know the answers, how will our kids”.

The $40 million campaign will feature on television, online videos, social media and cinemas and encourage adults to check their understanding of consent, before discussing it with each other and young people.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth
Amanda Rishworth will hold a press conference later on Sunday about the campaign. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

It will run until May 2025.

One of the advertisements shows various people hugging and asking questions such as “what if we’ve been drinking and we go back to their place”, “is a kiss consent to more” and “what if I said yes earlier …  can I still change my mind”.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the campaign was a key part of the government’s commitment to ending gender-based violence within a generation.

“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,” she said.

“Even though research shows that 86 per cent of Australians agree that adults need to talk to young people about consent, it’s something many of us aren’t talking about at all because it might feel uncomfortable and awkward.”

Chanel Contos
Founder of Teach Us Consent Chanel Contos helped inform the governments new campaign. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The campaign was informed by research involving more than 2600 Australians and in consultation with a panel of sexual violence and consent experts, including Teach Us Consent campaigner Chanel Contos. 

“I think the impact of normalising public conversations about consent will be a significant step,” said Ms Contos, who’s also a campaign ambassador.

A dedicated website has been set up with an interactive question generator and “misconception cards” to debunk common myths about consent, as well as conversation guides.

The Labor government said research shows about 25 per cent of teenage boys in Australia look up to social media personalities who perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes.

Giving clear messages to young people was critical to achieving a cultural shift, Prevention of Family Violence Assistant Minister Justine Elliot said.

“There’s a lot of contradictory messages and myths around consent, so it’s vital that we provide clarity and consistency on the messaging,” she said.

Assistant Minister for Social Services Justine Elliot.
Assistant Minister Justine Elliot says there’s a lot of contradictory messages around consent. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

“In fact, in Australia, one in five women and one in 16 men has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, with women most likely to experience this at the hands of an intimate partner.”

National cabinet held an emergency meeting earlier in May on domestic violence prevention, after a number of high-profile cases involving women who were killed at the hands of men they knew. 

According to the Counting Dead Women Australia site on FaceBook, 29 have died from violence this year so far.

The PM and the Domestic Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner
Anthony Albanese and Domestic Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner Micaela Cronin at the meeting. (Gaye Gerard/AAP PHOTOS)

In response, the federal government pledged more than $900 million to make permanent a program to provide a one-off $5000 payment to women fleeing violence.

In 2021, a video of a young woman smearing a milkshake on a man’s face in a bid to convey consent was removed as part of the then coalition government’s “Respect Matters” campaign.

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