AN OPEN LETTER
Dear supporters of Teach Us Consent,
Thank you for everything you have done this year, whether it be signing a petition, writing a testimony, sharing a post on social media, having a difficult conversation with friends or family members, or taking the time to reflect on your own experiences and understandings of consent and sex. An incredible amount of progress has been made so far which would not have been possible without your support.
Cultural progress is hard to measure, but we’ve achieved some tangible milestones this year since the launch of the Teach Us Consent campaign in February:
First, NSW Sex Crimes Squad Detective Superintendent Stacey Maloney and consent expert Dr Joy Townsend partnered with Teach Us Consent to launch Operation Vest in March. This provided survivors of sexual assault alternative and anonymous reporting options and showed how underreported sexual assault is in our society. The launch of Operation Vest saw an unprecedented 61% month on month increase in the reporting of sexual assault. It’s not that more people were sexually assaulted, it’s that more people felt empowered to put it in writing and report it.
Soon after, as testimonies of sexual assault started being posted about schools in Victoria and Queensland, the Minister for Education of Victoria, James Merlino, announced that consent education would become mandatory in state schools. Then in July, Queensland Minister for Education, Grace Grace, announced that consent education in Queensland would be revised to become more explicit and be taught from the age of 10. Just a few weeks ago in October, NSW Parliament had a debate as to whether consent education should be taught earlier, more holistically, and include concepts such as slut shaming, toxic masculinity, sexual coercion, enthusiastic consent, and queer sex education. This debate was triggered because over 20,000 signed a petition started by Teach Us Consent hosted on a NSW Parliament website. This debate was a huge success, and it passed with unanimous, cross-party support.
It’s great that one by one Australian States and Territories are becoming more involved in mandatory consent education. However, we have still only reached three of them, and our country’s Independent and Catholic schools are only bound by the national curriculum, rather than the state one. This year, Teach Us Consent has been working tirelessly alongside other key stakeholders, experts, academics, and young advocates to make changes to this national curriculum, which is only reviewed every 5 years. If we update the Australian National Curriculum, schools across all States and Territories will be required to follow, including Independent and Catholic schools.
The proposed curriculum changes have now been drafted by The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), and in December this year, every Minister for Education, both state and national from across the country (9 in total), is due to meet to approve or reject this proposed curriculum. For the changes to be passed, it must be a unanimous decision, and therefore any single Minister can veto it.
For this reason we are asking for your support in sending emails of support to the Minister for Education in your State or Territory to make sure they know that you would like them to approve it. An email template for this can be found here.
Thank you for your ongoing support and the large role you have played in making this happen. None of this would have been possible if thousands didn’t take action at once.
This is the final hurdle for the original demand of the Teach Us Consent campaign, which is ‘mandated and holistic consent education in Australian schools’.
With your help, I am highly optimistic that this change being enacted.
With appreciation and love,
Founder of Teach Us Consent