Parents and carers to have their say about consent

The department is seeking ideas about how to support talking about consent at home with an online survey.

18 November 2021
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An online survey of parents and carers will gather perspectives on how the NSW Department of Education can help them talk about consent with their children and young people at home, building on what is already taught in NSW schools.

Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said the November survey would help guide the Department’s planning and development of support and resources for parents and carers.

”We expect parents to have a wide range of views and expectations and we want to understand those views better so we can respond sensitively and appropriately to the issue,” Ms Harrisson said.

“Parents and carers play an important role in supporting children and young people to navigate consent, form healthy and respectful relationships outside of school and can help support broader cultural change to harmful sexual behaviour.”

The issue of consent awareness among young people was bravely raised online in early 2021 by Chanel Contos to widespread recognition.

Her petition led to thousands of young people sharing their personal experiences of sexual harassment, abuse and violence.

As a result of the petition, students across the state, both past and present, have called for strengthened consent education.

On 26 March 2021, the heads of all three NSW school sectors signed a Statement of Intent to strengthen consent education to combat sexual violence against young people.

“Sexual violence is never okay and our students need to learn about respectful relationships throughout their education. We’ve been very clear about the need for reform in this area since Ms Contos raised her petition,” Ms Harrisson said.

“Through the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens and other key groups we are engaging parents and carers as critical partners in this work to address the issue of sexual violence and improve supports regarding consent education.”

The survey has been designed to capture a broad and diverse range of parent and carer views, including culturally and linguistically diverse parents and carers, and those with children and young people with disability.

“The survey is one way for parents, carers and the community to provide their views and insights on this important and sensitive issue,” Ms Harrisson said.

“We are also working with the P&C Federation in hosting a series of webinars with key speakers to provide further support and information to parents and carers in addressing the issues of consent and sexual violence beyond the school gate.”

NSW P&C Federation President Natalie Walker said the Federation’s ongoing collaboration with the NSW Department of Education would support parents, carers and children to navigate issues of consent.

“Both the P&C Federation and the NSW Department of Education see this work as vital in supporting the whole-of-society effort to best help our young people build healthy and respectful relationships,” Ms Walker said.

The survey opens on 17 November and will run for four weeks.

Parents and carers can access the survey on the NSW Department of Education’s website.

The Statement of Intent

Earlier this year, the heads of NSW Public Schools, Catholic Schools NSW and the Association for Independent Schools NSW signed the Statement of Intent agreeing to take steps to strengthen consent education.

The Statement responded to the calls from young people to improve consent education in schools. It highlights a clear goal of strengthening our student’s understanding of consent: both through what they learn at school and what they learn and experience outside the school gates.

The Statement acknowledges the central role of parents and carers as the first and continuing educators of their children, and commits to engage parents and carers in conversations about the development of strategies stemming from the Statement.

It can be viewed at: https://education.nsw.gov.au/student-wellbeing/whole-school-approach/statement-of-intent-our-shared-commitment

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