A series of government videos aimed at educating teenagers about sexual consent have come under fire, with experts labelling them “confusing” and “concerning”.
There are also fears the videos fail to meet the national standards of the prevention of sexual assault through education, and calls for an expert review to ensure the content isn’t harmful.
The videos use simplified scenarios to explain and provide examples of consent - including one video where a young woman asks her boyfriend to try her milkshake before she scoops whipped cream out of her cup and rubs it over his face.
"Drink it! Drink it all!" she says while smiling and smearing his face with cream.
In another video about consent, a man with a spear gun tries to convince a woman to swim with sharks.
The content was created by The Good Society, which describes itself as an educational resource funded by the Department of Education.
Expert says consent is more complicated than milkshakes
Violence prevention expert Karen Willis said the videos were “basic” and “confusing”.
"If we want to address sexual violence with students, we need to arm them with tools to make ethical decisions in emotional and complicated interpersonal relationships - not these basic and often confusing resources," Ms Willis said.
"More than a decade of research suggests that this content will not work at changing behaviour and preventing violence.
"Young people are far more sophisticated than this content gives them credit for.
“And sex and consent is far more complicated than videos about milkshakes and sharks at the beach."
Accredited sexuality educator Kerrin Bradfield told ABC metaphors and imagery can sometimes work, but it’s important not to confuse the message by “skirting around” it.
“The issue is, if we don't talk plainly, clearly and explicitly about these topics, the message becomes further confusing and goes by the wayside.”
‘Appallingly bad’ - with no mention of sex
On social media, adult viewers seemed perplexed over the videos.
“My wife and I have now finished watching all the consent videos on "The Good Society" website,” one man wrote. “Absolutely inscrutable. Zero stars.”
“This is appalling - imagine being the teacher who has to explain this!” another person said.
One Twitter user slammed the videos as “unbelievably bad” and claimed school kids wouldn’t relate to them.
“I don’t think that’s going to cut it with teenagers,” they wrote. “Doesn’t speak their language. It’s something out of the fifties, appallingly bad.”
Several people pointed out that the word “sex” isn’t mentioned once in the entire series.
Founder of End Rape on Campus Australia Sharna Bremner said the material has missed the mark.
“It’s clear these resources weren’t written by people with expertise in violence prevention.” Ms Bremner said.
“Young people want and deserve training that practically and explicitly helps them understand how to ethically navigate relationships, and to recognise - and feel armed to challenge - unacceptable or coercive behaviour. As well as how to navigate non-verbal cues.
“We need to actively challenge the notion that sex is about men pursuing women and persisting until they relent.
"We need to set an expectation that everyone should be seeking affirmative, enthusiastic and informed consent, and arming young people to understand consent is not just a once-off yes/no conversation.
"It needs to be present the whole time.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, find help by visiting Lifeline or calling 1800 RESPECT.
Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811, or after hours 6231 1817
Family Violence Crisis and Support Service on 1800 608 122
Bravehearts – Sexual Assault Support for Children on 1800 BRAVE 1
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