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Consent education will be made mandatory in all Australian schools from next year, after state and federal ministers unanimously committed to enshrine it in the curriculum.

The news comes exactly one year after former Sydney private school student and advocate Chanel Contos launched a petition demanding for “earlier and more holistic consent education” to be mandated in schools across the country. The petition received more than 44,000 signatures plus countless testimonies of sexual assault.

The campaign was inspired by Contos launching a social media poll on Instagram in February 2021, asking if her followers or anyone close to them had been sexually assaulted by someone while they were at school. After receiving more than 200 responses she launched the campaign, forming an organisation called Teach Us Consent to “lobby for and provide holistic consent and sexuality education”.

On Thursday, Contos took to her Instagram page with a celebratory post saying, “We did it”.

“After over 44,000 signatures, more than 6,700 testimonies of sexual assault, and countless hours of volunteer work and support, we are very happy to announce that we did it!! Thank you to everyone involved.”

“This monumental change has only been made possible because of the tens of thousands of voices that have supported this movement,” she wrote.

Federal Senator Jonathon Duniam confirmed the move in senate estimates on Thursday this week.

“There was unanimous support from ministers to the consent content within the health and physical education curriculum,” Senator Duniam said.

All Australian schools, including independent schools, will be required to adhere to the new curriculum from next year.

Younger students will be taught about respectful relationships and seeking permission, starting in the playground. Older students will be taught comprehensive consent education including an understanding of gendered stereotypes, coercion and power imbalances.

Previously the NSW and Victorian governments had mandated consent education, but this only applied to state schools.

Education ministers are due to meet in April this year to finalise the new curriculum, which will be taught from the 2023 school year.

Contact 1800 RESPECT, or the Solicitor Outreach Service (SOS on 1800 592 296) for confidential counselling if you are a NSW solicitor. Always dial 000 in emergencies.

Image montage source: Instagram @teachusconsent @chanelc