THE New South Wales government will fork out $200 million over the next four years to teach schoolchildren how to defend themselves against sexual assault and to teach teenagers that silence doesn’t mean yes.
The money will go towards the state’s first sexual assault strategy being rolled out in schools from kindergarten to Year 12, meaning children as young as four could be taught about understanding consent.
The government will also launch a $1 million ad campaign on sexual consent, telling young adults if they don’t get a clear and verbal “yes” then they shouldn’t be pushing forward.
“If you want sex you have to ask for it and if you want that sex, you have to say ‘yes’,” Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Minister Pru Goward told The Daily Telegraph.
The strategy will also focus on preventing sexual assault and harassment in universities and workplaces as well as protecting victims.
The campaign will put signs and beer coasters splashed with messages like “no means no” and “silence is not yes” in pubs and bars encouraging young people to think before having sex.
A review of the state’s consent laws came after Luke Lazarus, the man accused of raping Saxon Mullins in an alleyway behind a Kings Cross nightclub in 2013, was acquitted after a five year legal case.
Ms Mullins, now aged 23, bravely waived her right to anonymity to share her story with ABC’s Four Corners in May — around a year after Mr Lazarus’ acquittal in 2017 — which sparked a national debate about sexual consent.
Following the episode going to air, NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman referred the laws to the Law Reform Commission after questions were raised about their adequacy, fairness and clarity.
Ms Goward said: “The affect, effect of sexual assault on victims is profound and long-lasting, and it requires a whole of community response if we are to reduce the number of incidents and the damage caused by this crime.
“The NSW Government’s Sexual Assault Strategy proposes an integrated response that is not just focused on the crisis point of the system, but also in the critical areas of prevention and early intervention.”
She said any adult survivors of child sexual abuse on the state’s social housing waiting list will be prioritised as part of the strategy.
If NSW does reform its sexual consent laws, it will join Tasmania in being one of Australia’s strictest states when it comes to establishing positive consent.
“You must explicitly ask for permission to have sex. If it’s not an enthusiastic yes, then it’s a no,” Ms Goward said in May, after she called for NSW’s laws to change.
Ms Goward’s decision to upgrade the NSW school curriculum comes less than six months after Scotland announced it would be teaching pre-school children about the concept of “consent”.
Under a push from the Scottish National Party to combat violence against women, children as young as two could receive lessons about consent.
The proposal, titled “Equally Safe: A deliver plan for Scotland’s strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls”, caused an outcry from family groups who claimed it was “ridiculous” to teach preschool age children about consent.
Along with teaching schoolchildren the importance of consent and healthy relationships, the plan also saw Rape Crisis Scotland’s sexual violence prevention education program rolled out across a further 11 schools.
If by consent they are referring to teaching children 'safe touch' and 'unsafe touch' and that they have the right to say no to 'unsafe touch', then it's all good.
It may become easier to file complaints pertaining to cybercrime, with the Home Ministry hosting a portal to report child sexual abuse material and other material online. The portal currently caters to child pornography, child sexual abuse material. It also includes sexually explicit content such as rape/gang rape material.
Cybercrimes that don’t fall under these categories still have to reported to the nearest police station or the cybercrime cell.
For one to report a complaint, they can opt for either ‘Report Anonymously’ or ‘Report and Track’. When one chooses ‘Report and Track’, complainants will have to provide details such as name, phone number, email address, details of the incident and information supporting the complaint.
If one chooses ‘Report Anonymously’, only information relating to the incident needs to be provided. However, the complaints are approved only after one puts in their phone number and receives a One Time Password.
On June 18, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had directed officials to expedite the portal’s launch during a review meeting.
According to Ministry officials from the Department of Women and Child Welfare, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that this project would be funded under Nirbhaya, according to the Indian Express. While the portal will currently respond to complaints, it is expected that there will be technology which will help automatically identify and remove content, the report added.
“The intent of having a dedicated portal hosted by the MHA is to accelerate the procedure so that the matter is resolved within 24 hours. The idea is to escalate content so that it can be blocked and removed as well as to start early prosecution,” the official told IE.
Illawarra victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse will be given the chance to help shape a national apology during a face-to-face consultation session to be held in Wollongong later this month.
The federal government has included the city, which was initially left out of the in-person consultation process, on the back of lobbying by Labor MP – and outspoken supporter of child sex abuse victims – Stephen Jones.
Mr Jones, the federal Member for Whitlam, attended Edmund Rice College in the 1980s – a school he described as “a dumping ground for sexual predators that had offended elsewhere and been moved on”.
It was a Catholic school for boys and therefore a magnet for paedophile priests and teachers.
The MP addressed Parliament in support of victims, including some of his former classmates, in October 2016.
Mr Jones welcomed the government’s decision to include Wollongong among the 14 locations across the country where face-to-face sessions are being held.
“I’d encourage members of the Illawarra community who’ve got an interest in this, particularly survivors, to attend when the forum comes to town,” he said.
The Wollongong session, listed on the national apology consultation website as “to be confirmed”, is scheduled for July 25.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to deliver a national apology to the victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in October.
Consultations are occurring across Australia. I am currently writing a book with one of the survivors of institutional child sex abuse in Melbourne area. It's called 'Sheep-Skinned Wolves; The Emma Fretton Story'.
Emma appeared before a panel last week. I had the privilege of helping her prepare. She was very courageous. It took a great deal of courage even though her abuse happened 30 years ago and she has testified at her abuser's trial and at the Royal Commission. It is absolutely tragic the effects child abuse and child sex abuse has on both children and adults who survive childhood abuse. The book should be out on Amazon in the next few months.
The apology follows the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in December.
The royal commission heard more than one in every nine Catholic priests in Wollongong were alleged child molesters between 1950 and 2010 – placing the Diocese of Wollongong in the top five areas with the highest proportion of priests who were alleged child sex abusers.