FOLLOWING the success of Consent Week last year, members of University of Wollongong Feminist Society (FemSoc) are organising their second community-wide event.
This years Consent Week will involve workshops and campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of true sexual consent, how it operates in everyday interaction and how young people can work together to end sexual assault, both on campus and throughout the community.
UOW Feminist Society Member, Jane Aubourg says Consent Week is a reaction to the fact that “we’re not getting these ideas and this education from our universities or our schools or any of these sort of networks that are supposed to be teaching us”.
Events will run from May 27 to May 31. Tuesday will kick off the week with a workshop by the NSW Rape Crisis Centre to discuss how to empathically listen to and support survivors of sexual assault. The workshop will also present statistics and research on the prevelance and causes of sexual assault in Australia.
On Wednesday, May 28 UOW Student Advocacy officer, Siobhan Christian will run a workshop on what kinds of support are available to students who have experienced sexual assault. Following this, FemSoc will host a Reclaim the Night event on Wednesday evening, in which we will each light a candle to acknowledge the one in five women affected by sexual assault in Australia (statistics are according to the Rape Crisis Centre).
On Thursday there will be a carnival event on the UOW Duck Lawn, with an ice-cream van, messages from global consent campaigns and several booths with material designed to initiate discussions about sexual assault and consent, including Consent show-bags —these will include condoms, lubrication, dams and a card about consent.
On Thursday evening, two simultaneous debriefing sessions will be held for all people who participated in the events. One will be specifically for survivors of sexual assault, and will be supervised by the Student Advocacy Officer and campus Women’s Officer
“We hope to create a space specifically for people who share that experience” says Hunt.
The other session will be for people who are supporters of survivors, or who are concerned about sexual assault and harassment more generally
Consent Week coincides with a campaign by UOW Feminist Society members who are attempting to approach local nightclubs and bars with posters and an ‘action plan’ for staff and security in cases of sexual harassment.
“Many students feel unsafe when they go out. They have come to expect groping or harassment and we think there are ways the clubs and bars can discourage this kind of behaviour” said UOW Journalism student, Elodie May.The event will be also accompanied with a poster campaign in the university. Student-made posters will be distributed in the women’s and unisex toilets, with information about sexual harassment services and affirming statements like “Sexual Harassment is Not Your Fault”.