About one in two Australians are confused about sexual consent, with a report also finding young people have a low understanding of sexual violence.
Meanwhile, adults are “paralysed” when considering having conversations with young people about consent because of a perceived lack of clarity.
Those findings from a report by Kantar Public were released alongside an announcement that Australia’s human rights watchdog will survey high school students on sexual consent.
Young people aged 16 to 25 had “excusing attitudes” towards sexual violence, the report said.
This is despite 15 to 19 being the most common age for sexual violence to occur, with 63 per cent of sexual assault victims recorded by police between 2014 and 2019 under 18 years of age.
The report found more than one in four young people aged 10 to 17 agreed with the statement “rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex”.
About one in four young men agreed “women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they are not interested”.
Just over one in 10 women agreed.
One in 10 young people also agreed with the statement “women often say no when they actually mean yes”.
Australia’s national curriculum will get an update next year, which includes expanding consent education.
The Australian Human Rights Commission will develop a survey on consent with advocate Chanel Contos.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows sexual violence continues to rise, with rates per 100,000 people at 25.69 in 2020, up from 22.03 a decade earlier.
One in two women and one in four women have been sexually harassed in their lifetime.
One in six women and one in 25 men have experienced at least one sexual assault since the age of 15.
The report found there was “inconsistent understanding” between men and women on aspects of consent, including whether it could be withdrawn, if a lack of a ‘yes’ implied consent or if asking for consent spoilt the mood.
“Australian adults have many questions about sexual consent … but, ultimately they hold them silently,” the report said.
“Many feel paralysed in having conversations with young people, because it is understandably difficult to talk about something you are not confident you know intimately within yourself.”
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