COLUMN: The importance of using respect and consent

Within my role as the Waratah Support Centre’s Education/Training & Community Development Coordinator I have the opportunity to deliver Respectful Relationships and Consent presentations to South West regional high school and college students. 

The presentations, which are delivered in a conversational style, require the students to come up with their own list of elements vital for a respectful relationship to flourish.

The focus includes relationships that the students have with their peers, family, friends, teachers, club members, sport team mates and others they may interact with throughout their lives.

Different classes of students will come up with a variety of elements in the individual sessions and an interesting discussion follows.

Respect features as a regular element but when asked what respect means to the students there is often silence.

Respect is not always easy to define but what I have found over time is that the students definitely know their stuff.

Examples falling under the Respect umbrella suggested by the students include: care and consideration for others, your own and other’s privacy, personal space, boundaries, being kind, listening to others’ opinions, treating others well and not using social media to send toxic messages.

Self-respect is on the agenda too.

We talk about the situation of a person making a risky decision solely on the premise that it will make someone else happy, but at the expense of their own happiness.

Lowering your own values and morals and buckling to peer pressure never seems to end well.

Consent seems to be the buzz word today. Within the sessions the following question is asked of the students when talking about entering into intimate sexual activity “Can you say no after you have already said Yes”?

The majority of students agree that you can.

We then discuss the need for both parties to be heard and to respect each other’s choice to be able to change their mind.  

Choosing to Respect yourself and your partner is a defining element to be considered and to be ever present within Respectful Relationships and when giving Consent.

Diane Tate

Waratah Support Centre and Bunbury Choose Respect team member