Consent Campaign Launch

Dept of Social Services

Good morning.

It is great to be here with you all today in Adelaide to launch this very important national campaign.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we are meeting, the Kaurna people, and pay my respects to elders past and present.

I extend this acknowledgment to all First Nations people attending the launch today.

I would also like to acknowledge those in attendance who have lived experience of family, domestic and sexual violence.

To my Assistant Minister – Justine Elliot – thank you very much for being here today and for the important role you play in our efforts around women’s safety. And of course, for being our fabulous MC today.

I would also like to acknowledge Daniel Principe, one of our campaign ambassadors who is here with us today, and Lizette Twisleton from the Expert Advisory Group which informed the campaign.

And of course to all of you for joining us here today.

All of us here know how important understanding and teaching the principles of consent is.

But the reality is many people don’t know how to talk about consent and are still confused by it, and we know Australians are experiencing sexual violence in particular at an alarming rate.

The statistics always shock me – but 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 16 men report that they have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

And disturbingly, the most common age for both victimisation and perpetration of sexual violence is between 15 and 19 years old.

It is why understanding and talking about consent is absolutely critical.

But it’s not just important that young people understand consent. Parents, carers, grandparents and other adults need to understand and be talking about consent too in order for everyone to have a shared understanding of consent – with the ultimate aim of reducing sexual violence.

That is what this campaign is all about.

Research to inform this campaign has shown that most Australians – both adults and young people – recognise the importance of sexual consent and that sex without consent is wrong.

However, for many there is confusion around what consent means in a practical sense.

The research we conducted to inform this campaign – which involved more than 2000 people aged 10 and over – showed that people are unsure about whether consent can be withdrawn, whether it is easy to say ‘no’, whether the absence of a ‘yes’ is a lack of consent and whether asking for consent spoils the mood.

The research – which heard from mums, dads, grandparents, young people and other adults who have influence in children’s lives like coaches and teachers – found half of Australians are conflicted in their understanding of sexual consent, have low confidence in their ability to define it, and perceive high costs of getting involved.

Seven in ten Australian adults believe the way people broadly think and talk about sexual consent is different now compared to a few years ago.

More than three quarters agree the topic is personally important and 86 per cent agree adults should talk to young people more about it.

But learning about consent isn’t just about reducing harm, it is about providing the next generation with skills to have safe, healthy relationships for life.

And this is a conversation in which everyone can take part.

But it’s not a new conversation, and work on how we progress the conversation around consent has been happening across the community.

Earlier this year we launched the Commonwealth Consent Policy Framework to establish a definition of consent to inform policies, initiatives, and programs for young Australians to ensure there is a consistent and clear understanding of consent embedded in our work.

Today’s launch of our new, national consent campaign builds on that work and aims to ensure adults understand consent and can explain it to young people in their lives.

The campaign asks: if we don’t know the answers – how will our kids?

The clear message is that learning, understanding and talking about consent can’t wait.

It’s an effective prompt designed to start conversations between adults, and then between adults and young people.

We are also today launching today a new website –

It contains evidence-based and expert-informed resources so we can start those conversations, and have the answers.

This includes conversation guides, misconception cards to debunk common myths about consent and also an interactive question generator.

Anyone can start these conversations – parents, carers, guardians, older siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, close family friends, or people like sporting coaches, teachers, and community or group leaders.

And I would encourage them to.

Evidence shows that providing positive information and examples to young people during their early years and adolescence can have a big impact on helping them develop healthy attitudes on consent and respectful relationships into their adult lives.

What’s more, recent research reveals that young people agree the adults in their lives should talk to them more about sexual consent.

The Consent campaign will encourage and empower adults to improve their understanding of consent, normalise talking about the topic, and help them feel confident and comfortable enough to open and guide conversations about consent with young people.

These resources will improve understanding of important elements of sexual consent, such as, that consent can be withdrawn at any time, and that consent can be communicated in several ways – it is not as simple as just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

It is critical that we support adults to get on the same page and build a shared community understanding about consent, to provide our kids with a united message.

By providing a nationally consistent message about consent, we are taking an important step towards achieving a society where consent is well understood, healthy sexual relationships are the norm and where no one is subjected to sexual violence of any kind.

Finally, I want to particularly acknowledge the work and support of the Expert Advisory Panel members and our ambassadors who contributed to the campaign and the supporting materials – and will play a role in helping to drive this campaign: Dr Melissa Kang, Katrina Marison, Chanel Contos, Kathryn Fordyce, Jilly Charlwood, Trish Pierson and Lizette Twisleton, Daniel Principe and Justin Coulson.

We wanted to ensure this campaign was evidence-based and drew on the deep expertise of many of you here today who have worked hard to raise awareness of consent.

I want to thank you for all you have done and are doing to progress understanding of consent in our country.

Our aim is that this campaign will help facilitate conversations and understanding that:

  • consent can be withdrawn at any time;
  • consent can be communicated in a number of ways – it’s not as simple as saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’; and
  • consent is part of a suite of skills foundational to healthy sexual relationships, like empathy and communication

Thank you also to Verian Group who did the research to support this campaign and BMF Creative for bringing it to life. I’d also like to thank my Department for all their work on delivering this campaign.

Changing attitudes and understanding can start with something as simple as a conversation.

Through conversations, we can shift attitudes and behaviours that left unchecked could lead to sexual violence. Ultimately, this will help keep our young people safe and set them up to have positive, respectful relationships.

There is of course a lot more work we need to do – and will do – to address the prevalence of sexual violence in our communities, so that together we achieve our goal of ending gender-based violence in one generation.

But today we mark an important step forward with the launch of the Consent campaign and the changes it will continue on how Australians view and engage with consent – young and old.

Learning, understanding and talking about consent can’t wait. That’s the aim of this campaign.

Thank you all for being here today to support it.

/Public Release. View in full here.