More explicit and age-appropriate education on consent and reporting sexual assaults will be delivered in Queensland schools, following a state government review of its respectful relationships program.
In March, Education Minister Grace Grace ordered a review of sexual consent education in Queensland schools
Students consulted as part of the review called for more explicit and age-appropriate consent education
Resources for teachers are set to be released at the end of 2021 for use in schools at the beginning of 2022
The review aimed to examine whether the state's Respectful Relationships Education Program "adequately addresses issues of sexual consent and reporting in schools".
Conducted by the Education Department, the review consulted 70 stakeholders including state and non-government education leaders, students, principals, unions, parent bodies and sexual assault support services.
Students call for more explicit, age-appropriate education
Education Minister Grace Grace said she also sought the views of young people from her Student Advisory Council on the Respectful Relationships Education Program (RREP).
"Their message to me was that they'd like more explicit, age-appropriate education on consent and the reporting of sexual assault," Ms Grace said.
"They also said this needs to start earlier. These needs will be reflected in the strengthened RREP.
"What we've found from consultation is that there's a strong need to build and promote a culture within schools that encourages people to seek help."
[Ron: For what?].
Teachers also raised the need for high-quality professional development to ensure they felt equipped and confident in teaching the topics, and to respond to disclosures of assault or abuse.
Resources being developed for schools
An Education spokesperson said consultation had identified the need to have consent and reporting education within broader respectful relationships education, which included addressing the drivers of gender-based violence.
"It has also reinforced the need to build and promote a culture within schools and community that encourages reporting and help-seeking and models safe, healthy, respectful relationships," they said.
The spokesperson said curriculum experts were using the findings and evidence-based practice to strengthen the RREP and resources to ensure students understood consent and how to have respectful relationships.
Resources and support for teachers, including professional learning to ensure all people in schools feel confident and able to seek help and to report concerns of sexual assault will be released at the end of 2021 for use next year.
The spokesperson said the revised draft Australian Curriculum has strengthened the concepts of sex education and consent education, providing more comprehensive learning across Prep-year 10 that was more explicit and begun earlier.
"The RREP will be re-aligned to the revised Australian Curriculum in 2022," they said.
Models for high-quality education programs to be distributed
Schools will be provided with another resource that will identify the features of high-quality respectful relationships programs to assist those developing their own programs.
"As individual schools are best placed to provide programs, it is highly recommended that every school - state and non-state - have whole-school processes and mechanisms in place for their students to voice their concerns in a safe and supportive environment," the Education Department spokesperson said.
"Additional information will be provided to parents/carers and students about what is being taught in schools, where to go to make a report of sexual assault, and what happens to these reports after they have been made."
Community respect education program says changes are a 'good start'
Logan-based youth program R4Respect works with communities and schools to provide a prevention and education strategy to teach respectful relationships.
Still in the process of providing feedback to the review, R4Respect program coordinator Rachael Pascua said the recommendations so far "were a great start".
"We initially contacted Minister Grace Grace following the national coverage around consent in March, and we were very clear in our position that more needs to be done to make sexual consent education mandatory," she said.
[Ron: Consent to what? Is there an implication that schools should encourage sex at school or by school-age children provided that the participants consent? Isn't that a matter for counselling by parents and spiritual advisers? Will teachers colleges and universities soon be providing teachers with courses providing proficiency in sexual consent issues?].
Ms Pascua said the program typically recommended consent education begin as young as possible but especially around 10-12 years of age "when young people's views around consent, gender and respect really start to become influenced by peer groups and the media".
[Ron: Sooo, the government needs to start schooling 10 year old children in sexual and gender preferences does it? WHY?].
"We believe with consent education it needs to be very clear that we use an affirmative model so that looks at understanding consent both verbally and nonverbally, taking away all the grey areas and what if's that young people have."
[Ron: To remove the 'grey areas' will schools start issuing pro forma contracts to assist prospective participants to ensure they avoid legal and other consequences after the event? That of course will then require schooling 10-12 year olds in the niceties of contract law. Presumably that will require further teacher training as well.
Isn't it time that Australian governments, school administrators, teachers and the population at large started to focus upon the violent sexual and physical abuse of babies and children elsewhere rather more than adolescent indiscretions in schools?].