24 March 2021

Safeguarding our young people

Over recent weeks thousands of testimonies have emerged of young Australian girls who have suffered sexual assault by their male peers. Those stories have not been easy reading, but they have been necessary reading for all those who care about our young people and the lives they will lead as adults.

It has been heartening to see how swiftly governments and schools have moved to take positive and remedial action. But I especially applaud all those who have come forward to speak of their deep and ongoing hurt.

The testimonies of these girls and young women – and of boys and young men – have had a far greater and more immediate impact on Australia’s current generation of secondary students than any formal curriculum offering on consent could possibly achieve.

We will of course continue to offer that curriculum, and we will improve it. We will seek and listen to the opinions of our students to help shape it. We will continue to support families through parental education. We will be even more vigilant of our students’ wellbeing, and we will continue to seek every opportunity to build and model respectful communities.

There is one more promise I make to young Australians as AHISA’s National Chair. AHISA will continue to relentlessly pursue its national advocacy effort to address social issues that put our young people in harm’s way. The role of alcohol, drugs and pornography in creating both the opportunity for sexual assault and the nature of those assaults is a dark undercurrent in the stories made public these last weeks. 

There is much work to be done.

AHISA National Chair