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The Australian Government recently announced that age-appropriate consent education will be included in the national curriculum from 2023, for students in kindergarten through to Year 10.

Needless to say, it’s a welcomed change. 

Hayley Foster, CEO of sexual, domestic and family violence prevention network Full Stop Australia, says it best: “This is a generational change that will equip young people with proper knowledge around sexual consent at each level of their education. We know from our sexual violence helpline that teenagers are not only the highest risk group of experiencing sexual violence, but also perpetrating it.”

While we’re incredibly excited, this announcement has got us thinking about what else we would like to see in our children’s education.

We know that parents have the biggest role to play when it comes to raising good humans, but schools are undoubtedly the ‘second line of defense’ (so to speak). For children with turbulent home lives, school is even more important.

The introduction of much-needed consent education is a great start, but its introduction doesn’t mean we can’t demand more from the education system. 

We asked the parents in our haven community (including our readers and the members of haven HQ) what they want to see in the school curriculum – here’s what they had to say…

Respect

You probably know an adult who could have benefited from respect education when they were a child. We will probably see strong messages of respect towards romantic partners in this new consent education, but what about respect for our peers, family members and friends? While this education should focus on how to show respect to others – putting the onus on the victimiser, not the victim – it could also teach children the signs of abuse to look out for. Things like ‘gaslighting’ and ‘love bombing’ are now part of our vernacular, but could teaching children how to identify and respond to them help us move closer to an abuse-free society?

Financial management

No matter what you tell yourself when you’re swiping your credit card for the umpteenth time in one day, people aren’t ‘naturally bad’ at managing their money – they’ve just never learned. Imagine if budgeting, investing and saving were taught to you in the classroom? You may not be a millionaire by now, but you would have saved a lot of time (and money) working out the benefits of daily spending limits, the rewards of saving toward a goal, how to *actually* do your taxes  and even how to make credit cards and loans work for you.

The environment

We’re glad that sustainability is already a small part of the school curriculum, but if they are going to create significant, positive environmental change, they need to learn more. Climate anxiety is a huge problem (a study of children in 10 countries found that 59 per cent were extremely worried about climate change) but learning about what they can do to prevent it is a huge help. Lessons could cover everything from effective climate change policy to ways children can take action locally.

Business

Ask your child what they want to be when they grow up and they’ll probably say one of a small list of traditional jobs – a vet, a lawyer, a doctor, even a sports star or actor. The reason you never hear children talk about wanting to be a ‘small business owner’ or ‘entrepreneur’ when they grow up is because they aren’t taught about these kinds of jobs – but they should be! There are so many benefits to finding out about the different kinds of business structures, the ways and whys to start a side hustle and the joys of being a ‘slashie’ (someone with multiple different jobs at once). The ways we do business are changing, and children should know about them.

Advocacy

Greta Thunberg is the perfect example of the change that can happen when we empower our kids to advocate for what they believe in. Whether it’s the fight against climate change, bullying, poverty or racial injustice, school is a great place for children to learn the right ways to be an advocate and how to affect real change. Assignments could include setting up petitions, raising awareness or money for their chosen cause, essays on famous advocates throughout history and even learning about privilege and how to use it for good. The future belongs to our children – they should be given the best chance to protect it.

What would you like to see in our national curriculum? Share your thoughts right here.

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haven  

haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.