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Greens promise consent education and free period products in all public schools

Media Release
Larissa Waters 6 Feb 2022

As Queensland kids return to classrooms tomorrow, the Greens have pledged to keep them safe and healthy by fully funding comprehensive consent education and providing free period products from sustainable suppliers.

While most parents will rightly be focused on ensuring their children are protected from Covid-19, the Greens recognise that many schoolkids face other significant challenges, including sexual harassment and assault, and period poverty.

The Greens will:

  • invest $477 million to support the national rollout of Our Watch’s Respectful Relationships education in all public schools; and
  • provide $68.5 million over 10 years to make pads and tampons free in all public schools.

The highest rates of sexual assault and harassment still occur among 15-19 year olds, making it critically important that work is done to ensure student safety. Nationally consistent respectful relationships and consent education is key to making schools safe, promoting gender equality, and eliminating rape culture.

Although period products are a health essential, for many students and their families paying for pads and tampons is a financial burden. The Greens’ plan will improve students’ health and wellbeing, reduce period stigma, and ensure that no student has to skip school during their period because they cannot afford period products. 

The above policies are in addition to our plan for truly free public education and Covid-safe classrooms, launched last month.

Lines attributable to Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters:

“With the Omicron variant still persistent in the community, parents are rightly anxious to ensure that their children are protected as they return to school. That’s why last month the Greens announced our plan to provide $224.1m to install HEPA filters and CO2 monitors to improve air quality in schools.

“But Covid-19 isn’t the only challenge facing many kids. Children must be safe from sexual assault, bullying and harassment, and learn at school about healthy boundaries and respect.

“The Greens will fully fund the delivery of Our Watch’s age appropriate, whole-of-school and evidence-based Respectful Relationships program in all public schools.
 
“We know that an alarming number of people still disbelieve or victim-blame survivors of assault. Sexual consent education in schools can help dismantle this persistent rape culture and ensure everyone understands that anything less than informed and enthusiastic consent means no. 

"All students should get the benefit of learning about respect, gender equality and not letting their career aspirations be limited by their gender.

“Period poverty is also a major problem faced by many students. Some students use socks or rolled up toilet paper to manage their periods. Many students skip school out of shame.

“Period products are a necessity, not a luxury, and it's about time we made them accessible to everyone, regardless of their income.  The Greens’ policy costing allows for supplies of carbon-neutral, largely compostable period products.

“Less than $7 million a year is a very small price to pay to improve the health and wellbeing of students, reduce period stigma, and ensure that no one has to skip school.”

Lines attributable to Greens education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi:

“A national, fully-funded rollout of school-based programs about respectful relationships is long overdue.

“In our patriarchal society, boys, in particular, are at risk of developing harmful attitudes and behaviours which can lead to sexual violence and harassment.

“There must be respectful relationships education including sexual consent in all schools across the country. The Greens will make this happen.”
 

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