Parent and carer survey results 2021

Thank you to everyone who participated in this survey and focus groups. The Department will continue to integrate the findings in to its ongoing work to strengthen consent education in NSW.

Survey results

The survey has provided the Department with important insights. Some of the results from the survey are shared here.

When do you think schools start teaching children about consent?

  • 74% of respondents are aware that schools start teaching consent to children in primary school.

How often do parents talk to their children about sensitive issues

  • 93% of respondents speak about sensitive issues with their child/ren, but in a diversity of ways.
    • 29% talk all the time
    • 32% talk sometimes
    • 32% talk when sensitive issues come up

How prepared and comfortable do parents feel to talk about sensitive issues

  • 69% of respondents feel both prepared and comfortable to talk about sensitive issues with their child; 13% feel prepared but not comfortable; 16% feel comfortable but not prepared; 2% not prepared and not comfortable.
  • Of the 31% of respondents who don’t feel prepared and/or comfortable to talk about sensitive issues, almost half (48%) will only talk about sensitive issues when they come up, and the majority (63%) would like more resources showing parents how to have conversations with their child about sensitive issues.

What would help parents have conversations about sensitive issues

  • A majority (79%) of respondents want information about what their child/ren are learning at school, to help them have conversations about sensitive issues at home,
  • This is followed by 46% who would like access to information and resources, to help them have conversations about sensitive issues, like consent, at home.
    • A heads up from the school about what is being taught and when, so I can follow on at home.” Survey respondent
    • “I'm more interested in knowing when the school is talking about these things and what will be covered, gives us the opportunity for talks at home too.” Survey respondent
  • When asked what topic areas parents are interested in hearing more about, ‘keeping children safe online’ and ‘how to know when your child needs help’ were the most popular responses.
  • Parents who only had children in primary school – specifically the youngest years – were more likely to want information on all topics, particularly on keeping their children safe online. They were also more likely to feel unprepared to have conversations about sensitive topics than parents who only had children in high school.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consent is saying yes to something happening or agreeing to do something freely, without fear, force or pressure.

In NSW public schools, students learn about consent and how things like pressure from others, drinking alcohol or taking drugs can change the decisions that people make. They also learn how to solve problems and how to act online. In high school, learning about consent changes to include sexual consent as students look at the types of relationships they might have during their life.

The department has partnered with the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations to run a series of webinars for parents and carers on consent education.

During our first webinar (held on June 17), we discussed how consent is being taught in schools now, and the next steps to strengthen consent education.

Our second webinar (held on September 8) featured adolescent health expert Dr. Melissa Kang, and discussed how parents and carers can best support young people to navigate consent, including advice and resources to support conversations on sensitive topics at home.

Our third webinar (held on November 25) was run in collaboration with the eSafety commission, and provided parents with a guide to potential dangers for children and young people when navigating the online space.

To view our webinars, visit the NSW P&C Federation website at

Students across the state, both past and present, have called for strengthened consent education.

This was sparked by a petition by former Sydney student Chanel Contos, which led to thousands of young people sharing their stories of witnessing or experiencing sexual harassment, abuse and violence amongst young people.

In response, the heads of the three education sectors in NSW signed a Statement of Intent, which recognises the role of parents and carers as the primary and continuing educators of their children, and their importance in ensuring that students have the necessary knowledge and skills to form healthy, respectful relationships.

This survey will help the department to understand the views and perspectives of parents and carers on consent education, including:

  • what parents and carers currently know about consent education
  • the types of resources they would like to help them speak about consent with their children at home.

The survey was open to parents and carers of NSW Public School students of all ages, from all communities.

The results will be analysed to help the department plan how we can support consent education in school communities, including how we can support parents and carers to have important conversations with their children and young people at home.

The department collaborated with Multicultural NSW, Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW and the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group NSW to ensure the survey was distributed widely, and captures a diverse range of responses. The survey was translated into 10 different languages, and focus groups were held for communities less likely to engage with an online survey.

Families have a vital role in teaching their children about relationships, consent and sexuality. Families will lay the foundations for well adjusted, confident and healthy children who go on to experience positive and respectful relationships.

Accessing reliable and accurate information about a wide range of relationships, sexuality and sexual health issues is important to have the discussions at home. Working in partnership with the school will maximise the outcomes for each child.

The department does not mandate external resources, programs or providers. Principals and teachers make these decisions at a local level, based on student needs, community context and resources. As a first step, parents and carers are encouraged to speak to their child’s school about the resources they use and would recommend.

Through the Statement of Intent, we have committed to providing greater support and resources for parents and carers to continue these conversations beyond the school gate.


  • Student management and wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Education and Skills Reform
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