The Guardian Australia
‘Confusing’ milkshake consent video pulled from campaign that cost Australian government $3.8m
The federal government spent nearly half the $7.8m it allocated to its “Respect Matters” campaign on a website that included a “bizarre” video that taught sex consent through milkshakes, which has now been removed in response to widespread criticism.
According to the government’s public contract database, the Department of Education paid a digital media agency nearly $3.8m to create the campaign that included the video.
On Tuesday, the Department of Education took down the milkshake video – and another video – citing “community and stakeholder feedback”.
The campaign, called The Good Society, was heavily criticised on Monday for the “confusing” video, where a young woman smears a milkshake over a young man’s face while telling him to “drink it all”.
The video, which aims to teach school children about sex consent, also draws comparisons between “getting pizza” and “can I touch your butt?”
“When a person imposes their will on you, it’s as if they were moving the ‘Yes line’ over the ‘Maybe zone’ or the ‘End zone’, ignoring your rich inner world,” the video voiceover says. “And that’s not good.”
The education department’s secretary, Dr Michele Bruniges, said two videos had been deleted and the remaining content would “continue” to be “evaluated”.
“In response to community and stakeholder feedback, two videos have been removed from The Good Society website,” she said.
“The website is designed to be a live and dynamic resource, with content added, removed, and modified, to ensure it remains current and appropriate.
“The department will continue to engage with experts to evaluate the materials that appear on the website to ensure they are fit for purpose and reflect current experiences and community issues.”
Developed as part of the government’s Respect Matters program, The Good Society contains more than 350 resources including videos, digital stories, podcasts and teaching materials that are accessible to teachers and students.
According to AusTender, the government paid media company Liquid Interactive $3,790,600 for the campaign. The original contract published in 2017 was for $2,128,500, but this was increased by $1.66m in April 2018.
The website stated the contract was for “Online learning solutions – Educating against Domestic Violence measure” covering the period 28 June, 2017 to 28 June, 2019.
Earlier in April, the education minister Alan Tudge and the social services minister, Anne Ruston, said a total of $7.8m had been invested in the Respect Matters program, meaning the contract with Liquid Interactive accounted for 48.5% of total funding.
The Respect Matters program was announced in 2015 as part of the government’s national plan to reduce violence against women and children.
It began with an initial funding of $5m as part of the 2015 Women’s Safety Package. An additional $2.8m was committed in March 2019.
“The Australian government has invested $7.8m in the Respect Matters program to support and promote positive attitudes, behaviours and equality in schools to help prevent domestic, family, and sexual violence,” Tudge and Ruston said in a joint statement in April.
The director of End Rape on Campus, Sharna Bremner, told Guardian Australia on Monday the videos were “bizarre” and “really trivialise an incredibly serious issue”.
The widely shared milkshake video involves a concept called “the field model”, where students are shown an image of a football field to explain how shared decisions are made.
But Bremner said neither she, nor other rape prevention experts she has spoken to, had heard of the field model.
One of the creators of the BBC British comedy series Look Around You, which made intentionally bad parody educational videos, said the milkshake video was the “worst” example of the form.
“Worst use – for so many reasons – of Look Around You ‘borrowing’ I’ve ever seen,” Robert Popper tweeted.
On Monday, the Department of Education told Guardian Australia: “Content on The Good Society website was created by experts and reviewed by a Resource Review Group of subject matter experts. Community members, teachers, and school leaders were also consulted to ensure the content was engaging for students and consistent with community standards.”