Schoolies partying outside in front of the event's main stage

As ‘challenge lists’ emerge, experts urge parents to give permission speech ahead of Schools events

As students across Australia head to Schoolies celebrations in several states, an expert says parents need to have real conversations with them about sexual consent.

It follows reports of Schoolies «challenge lists» posted to their social media pages featuring several sexist and gifted tasks.

Dr Monique Mulholland, senior lecturer in the humanities at Flinders University, said she was not surprised by the lists circulating among students.

«Unfortunately, these kinds of things are pretty normalized, these kinds of lists,» he said.

«When I read this list, I thought, ‘This is about sexual violence and about vulnerability,’ but this list is very sexist, very sexist, and very talented.

«That comment about making love to a disabled girl made me sick to my stomach… and that’s exactly why consent training is happening right now because we can’t ignore it anymore.

«This is the broader cultural issue we face with sexual violence and sexism, and schools really need to tackle it.»

Flinders University senior lecturer Dr Monique Mulholland says consent education is necessary to eradicate historical sexism.(Provided by: Flinders University)

Dr Mulholland said that in response to the #MeToo movement, Chanel Contos’ petition and workplace harassment in the Houses of Parliament, consent education will be made compulsory in schools next year.

She said the type of «joke» depicted on the list is common and it’s hard for young girls to know how to stand it.

«This is this kind of entrenched misogyny and even though we’re having conversations around parliament and #MeToo, it’s still going on because it’s so historical – it’s deeply held sexism,» she said.

«It’s really hard to change. I personally believe the only way to change that is with really good, evidence-based sex, relationship and consent education taught in schools.»

Parents should talk to their children

Dr Mulholland said education is needed not only at school but also at home.

«Parents often get very nervous when talking to their kids about gender and sexuality issues. They think that if they talk to their kids, it encourages these behaviors,» she said.

«But it’s really important for parents to work through their fear of talking to their kids about sex because then we empower them and make them understand what they’re going to negotiate in their lives.»

She said parents should be able to talk to their children about consent, gender and sexuality, and that the key is to be «led by them.»

«You don’t have to know all the answers, but just be ready to talk, think things through together,» he said.

It’s important that they don’t just discuss a simple yes or no issue with their children – trying to negotiate consent can be quite complex.

He said parents should also oppose changes to the law, including making South Australia’s «privacy» – removing a condom during sex without consent – a crime.

A man in a suit and tie speaks into microphones in the stands in front of glass windows.
SA Education Minister Blair Boyer said she understands parents’ concerns.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

South Australian Education Minister Blair Boyer said she would not send her three daughters to Schoolies and would say «hard words» to them when they were old enough.

«I totally understand why families see things like this and get really worried. It’s disgusting and there’s no place for it,» he said.

The organizer of the South Australian event said Encounter Youth did a good job of making sure the festival was safe.

«I hope our young people make good decisions, and with the support out there, we can keep that sort of thing out.»

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