We had the pleasure of chatting to the team at Consent Labs about the importance of greater awareness around consent, sexual harassment and assault.
They’re on a mission to start a conversation, and challenge the additional barriers surrounding the issue. They’re tackling this head on by providing engaging and informative sessions to help young people understand their rights and recognise when situations may become non-consensual. They believe that addressing the issue at tertiary level is too late, and that a healthy understanding about consent should occur as young people begin to understand and explore relationships.
Sexual assault is a legal term used to describe a range of sexual offences, from showing indecent images to another person, to kissing or touching them, as well as penetration of the person’s body with a body part or object.
When speaking to Consent Labs, they shared the alarming statistics of why the conversation is so important:
51% of Australian university students were sexually harassed at least once in 2016
People aged 19 years and younger account for 60% of all victims of sexual assault
1 in 5 women in Australia have experienced sexual violence
With the above in mind, here’s a handy guide to ensure your sexual encounters are 100% consensual:
1. Talk, talk, talk!
Communication with your partner is the key to consent. If you never ask, how will you know? No matter how in tune you think you may be with your partner’s thoughts and feelings, it’s ALWAYS necessary to actually ask the question: are they into this? Never assume what they’re thinking - you’re not a mind reader!
2. Asking can be sexy as hell.
Think asking for consent might kill the mood? Think again. Making your communication sexy is as easy as this: “Do you like how this makes you feel?”, “What do you want me to do to you?”, “When I do this, do you like it?”. Don’t be afraid to bring in some fun elements to your consensual talks - you might find it actually helps to create the vibe!
3. Body talks, but never tells.
Have a look at your partner's body language - are they pulling away or drawing you in? Are they open to you or facing away? Body language can be a great tool for cues as to what your partner might be feeling or thinking, but it is NEVER a replacement for consent. Always ask for their consent - remember you’re not a mind reader.
4. Consent is a part of life.
Help to reduce the stigma around asking for consent! Consensual sexual encounters should be the norm. Start conversations with your peers, your friends, your high school teachers to normalise talking about sex. If we all start using consensual conversations as a part of sex or relationships, it’s going to feel a whole lot easier for everyone.
If you have been sexually assaulted and you don’t feel safe, call triple zero (000). You should also:
Ensure your safety by going somewhere you feel safe. This could be a friends house, a family members home or even the police station.
Reach out for support from someone close to you that you can trust or an organisation.
Seek medical help at a hospital or health centre.
It's important to understand your rights. The laws vary across different states so read this guide to find out what your rights are in your area: https://yla.org.au/
Some other useful resources:
Kids Helpline provides free and private counselling to young people up to age 25. They are available 24/7 on 1800 55 1800.
1800Respect is a national helpline, providing counselling, information and support. They are available 24/7 on 1800 737 732.
1800MYLINE is a national helpline for sexual assault, family & domestic violence, available 24/7. They provide counselling, advice, or referrals to helpful services. They are available 24/7 on 1800 695 463.
Family Planning Victoria is a clinic that provides sexual healthcare (safe sex) services and advice. They are available 24/7 on (03) 9257 0100.