Australian state government launches ad campaign to educate on new affirmative consent law
~ MAY 2022 ~
An Australian state has launched a steamy ad campaign featuring couples in the throes of passion in order to drive home an important message.
The new affirmative consent law passed last November and will be applied on June 1.
It demands sexual partners take an active step to make sure the other person is on board.
The new rules mean a person can’t reasonably believe another wants to have sex without doing or saying something to make sure that’s the case.
A set of video ads to drive home the message will be rolled out, showing couples in a steamy situation pausing to ask for consent.
The NSW government has launched an ad campaign to inform people about the new consent requirement.
“Do you want to keep going?” a man asks a woman in one of the ads, set at a house party with purple lighting and deep bass notes resounding in the background.
“No, let’s go back to the party,” the woman replies.
The ads come about a year after former prime minister Scott Morrison was widely ridiculed for rolling out a “confusing” consent ad using milkshake as a metaphor for sex.
“Drink it!” the woman in the ad was heard saying, smearing cream in her male partner’s face as an analogy for non-consensual sex.
‘Drink it!’: The federal government’s infamous ‘milkshake ad’ was pulled just one day after it was launched.
The Morrison government was relentlessly mocked for the $3.7 million ad and ended up scrapping the video just one day after it was launched.
Rape survivor advocates were more positive about the new NSW campaign.
“This is a really powerful campaign that I believe will make a massive impact,” said survivor advocate Saxon Mullins, who is the director of the organization Rape & Sexual Assault Research & Advocacy.
Teach Us Consent Movement founder Chanel Contos said the ad campaign would underscore the “dynamic ways” consent can be sought.
“It‘s great to have examples of what ’yes’ looks like, and more importantly what ’no’ looks like and how to respond when you sense that someone is not comfortable, or check that they are,“ Ms. Contos said.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman addressed reporters alongside survivor advocate Saxon Mullins. Picture NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the six months that have passed since the law reform was passed was necessary to allow police and courts to understand and implement it.
“These reforms make it clear that if you want to engage in sexual activity with someone, then they need to do or say something to show consent or you need to do or say something to seek consent,” he said.
“These reforms are not just about holding perpetrators to account, but changing social behaviour.”
An online fact sheet about the new rule explains that consent for sex must be clearly communicated, ongoing and specific.
Consent can also be withdrawn at any point, meaning the other person has to stop the sexual activity if that happens.
There are also situations where people can’t freely choose to have sex, including if they’re heavily influenced by drugs or alcohol, unconscious, or threatened.
The website also advises to ask directly for consent, keep checking in, and to be aware of body language.
“Look at body language and non-verbal cues to make sure they’re comfortable,” the fact sheet says.
“Just because someone isn’t saying no, doesn’t mean they’re saying yes.”
Hayley Foster, chief executive at the rape crisis center Full Stop Australia, said calls for help from survivors had increased by 28 percent over the past 12 months.
She expected the increased awareness around the issue given the campaign and the new law would prompt more people to reach out for help.
“We’re going to see more people reaching out for support as a result of this campaign, and we need to ensure services are properly funded,” she said.