By Will Watson.
Swathi Shanmukhasundaram’s government have called for a compulsory school program to better educate Australians about sex, relationships and domestic violence, in Youth Parliament today.
Under the proposal, the school program would address five main areas: mental health; substance abuse; technology; gender and sexual orientation; and different types of relationships. The program would teach students how to deal with those issue in a relationship.
It would add to existing education programs — programs the teams does not believe are doing enough.
The exact content of the program would be governed by an expert committee composed of health professionals, community leaders and other stakeholders.
The Youth Premier invoked the recent death of Eurydice Dixon, and the Harvey Weinstein saga in launching the Bill.
“We are facing an epidemic of domestic violence,” said Premier Shanmukhasundaram.
“We must give young people the tools and empower them to understand power dynamics within relationships,” she said.
But the Opposition disagreed on the compulsory nature of the Bill.
“It’s initial intent is good but its flaw is that it is illiberal,” said the Opposition’s Matt Golding.
“There are many cultures out there that would not accept this,” Mr Golding said. Mr Golding also spoke about the role of parents in educating their own children.
“This Bill will be taking away a families freedom to choose,” he said.
The Opposition also called into question who would make up the expert committee. Member Jack Smith was especially concerned about a lack of rural representation on the committee.
“‘We are all Victorians but we most acknowledged that not all areas of Victoria are the same,” Mr Smith said. Fellow Opposition member Alexander Libchard agreed.
“In regional country towns, people aren’t as accepting of young people who are trying to figure themselves out,” Mr Libchard said.
But the assertion the Bill would not accurately represented all affected was refuted by Premier Shanmukhasundaram who suggested the Opposition “…hadn’t read the Bill”.
Government member Bayu Pratama said the Bill was an important step.
He said many migrants “…may not have an equippable knowledge of substance and addiction,” and that this Bill addresses those concerns.
The bill, entitled “Fostering Positive Relationships 2018,” passed the Legislative Assembly on voices, with only a few dissenters from the opposition.