Government campaign videos seeking to highlight the importance of consent in relationships have come under fire from campaign groups. Advocates in the movement for equal rights between men and women that often deal with the result of relationship abuse, have criticised the videos for trivialising what they see as an incredibly important matter.
The videos released as national education materials to all Australian schools, youth and community groups have used examples of sharing milkshakes, going swinging and eating tacos as ways to visualise and teach children the vital need for clear communication between people. The videos focus on what it means to give consent in a relationship, and try to offer viewers information on how to leave abusive relationships as well as potentially stop their own abusive behaviour.
The videos, which are aimed at school age children, have been deemed ‘cutesy’ by Sharna Bremner, founder of End Rape on Campus Australia. In response to the release of the videos she said: “The materials are partly incorrect in some places and they are engaged dearly in this weird use of cutesy metaphors.”
For Bremner and other critics, they feel the videos are patronising in their approach to communicating with children and young adults. Bremner went on to describe how previous experience in her role means “we know students in these particular aged groups are quite capable of discussing sex and consent in real terms, they do not need videos about milkshakes and tacos.”
The government made the videos available as educational material as part of a national campaign to improve awareness on the issue of consent. The ‘Respect Matters’ campaign is dedicated to teaching about sexual assault in schools, hoping that the release of the videos, as well as accompanying education material, will allow children to learn about “safe, healthy and consensual relationships”.