Herald Sun

Class is in for consent lessons

Schools target abuse

- NATASHA BITA

SEXUAL consent will be taught to children as young as 14 while primary school kids will learn about violence against women under new “respectful relationsh­ip” lessons.

More than 350 videos, digital stories, podcasts and other lesson materials will be available free to teachers, students and families as part of the Respect Matters program.

Kids as young as four will in primary school learn about empathy, peer pressure, interactin­g respectful­ly and “challengin­g discrimina­tory behaviour”.

High school students in years 7 to 9 will learn about “relationsh­ips and power, and abuse”.

Abuse and violence against women will also be dealt with in the lessons for younger teens, to be unveiled on Wednesday by the federal Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, and the Minister for Women’s Safety, Anne Ruston.

Years 10 to 12 will learn about intimate relationsh­ips, sexting and sexual consent and decision-making.

The new sex education curriculum aims to prevent domestic violence among the next generation of young adults, and stamp out shocking evidence of sexual assaults between high school students.

The Respect Matters program has been developed by Our Watch, the eSafety Commission­er and the Foundation for Young Australian­s, as well as parents’, community and principals’ groups.

The lesson material for children from kindy and prep through to year 12 is in line with the Australian curriculum, agreed by all states and territorie­s in 2015, and will be reviewed this year.

Teachers will be able to choose exactly what to teach in their classrooms, to reflect the values of their schools and local communitie­s.

Mr Tudge said education was important in building knowledge of and then maintainin­g respectful relationsh­ips from a young age.

“The most important people in teaching kids about respect and relationsh­ips are parents, but schools can also play a vital role,” he said.

“I will be discussing these matters further with my state and territory counterpar­ts when we meet this month.”

Senator Ruston said early interventi­on and education were key to a future without domestic violence.

“We need to work on preventing violence before it begins,” she said.

“School years are crucial in a child’s developmen­t and we want to guarantee that whether it be at home, at school or even playing weekend sport, that kids and their parents have been informed about what is respectful behaviour and what is not.”

The federal government has spent $7.8m on the Respect Matters program to promote positive attitudes, behaviours and equality in schools to help prevent domestic, family, and sexual violence.

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