Fiona Patten MLC (Northern Metropolitan): My question is to the Minister for Education, represented in this place by Minister Herbert. Between Brighton Grammar’s ‘slut of the month’ account, a so-called pornography ring at Melbourne Grammar and now another at St Michaels Grammar, a pattern is emerging in Victorian schools. These incidents reveal a lack of understanding of consent and privacy by students. Young people receive the bulk of their sexual education through online material these days, and that is frequently age inappropriate and not contextualised within a broader conversation around sexual safety. Age-appropriate material is crucial in ensuring young people are learning about consent and boundaries. My question is: what is the government doing to foster better understandings of cyber safety and sexual activity online for young people?
Thank you, Minister. I agree this has two sides, but I think the real question is sex education. In this digital age we are not having clear conversations and clear discussions about the type of material that kids are seeing online, the kind of online interactions they are having and even the differentiation between entertainment and real life. Without this, incidents of bullying and disrespect will continue. I believe the only way to combat this is through uniform progressive sex education programs that commence at a relatively early age. Look at countries such as Norway and even the UK, where young people are being taught age-appropriate sex education throughout their schooling and it is working. Will the government commit to reviewing the sex education policies of all schools in Victoria to ensure that every child in the state is receiving the same up-to-date information so we can stamp out the type of behaviour we are seeing in these schools?