Everything you need to know about “Consent Matters”


What does the implementation of UTS’ compulsory consent module mean for students?

Content warning: mentions of sexual assault and sexual harassment

The topic of sexual assault and harassment has been making headlines increasingly over the past few years, both within Australia and worldwide.

2016’s headlines brought the Panama Papers, President Trump and the Respect.Now.Always. initiative. A year later, the damning results of the Australian Human Rights Commission survey were reported alongside the London high-rise fire and Hurricane Maria. The viral #MeToo movement was next to enter, gaining traction in October 2017 as it spilled onto the pages of TIME and pixelated our TV screens with the Time’s Up campaign in the 2017/2018 Hollywood awards season.

UTS thinks that time’s up too, yet with the announcement of Consent Matters' university-wide implementation this Spring session, came the confusion of many students who were left wondering what, exactly, the program is, and how, exactly, it affects them. We are not here to debate what constitutes consent or the necessity of the program, only to dispel possible misconceptions.

UTS students have expressed that they’re seeking a better understanding of consent and that they desire a more open conversation about sexual assault and sexual harassment at UTS.
— Catharine Pruscino

The aim of the program, according to Catharine Pruscino, UTS’ Program Manager of Respect.Now.Always., is to “[open] the conversation and [ensure] that all students and staff have a shared understanding of what consent is, how to recognise when it's not there, real-life skills to use in an unacceptable situation, and available support services.”

Consent Matters was introduced at UTS as part of a suite of initiatives in response to the Australian Human Rights Commission (2017) report and UTS Design Innovation Research Centre’s “extensive listening piece”, where 3000 students and 200 staff members conveyed the need for a better understanding of consent, and a desire for a “more open” dialogue about sexual assault and sexual harassment at UTS.

The Consent Matters module was tested by UTS staff and students in the Autumn session of 2018, and is now fully available across UTS. The module needs only to be completed once, and those who completed it during the pilot phase are not required to complete it again.

Am I required to complete Consent Matters?

The  Respect.Now.Always.  campaign is very visible at UTS. Image  credit .

The Respect.Now.Always. campaign is very visible at UTS. Image credit.

All students (from undergraduate to postgraduate) and staff of UTS are expected to complete the module.

If you are both a student and a staff member, you only have to complete it once – and it’s suggested that you complete it through UTSOnline and send your result, name and staff number to consent.matters@uts.edu.au so that you are noted as completed as a staff member.

Currently, UTS INSEARCH students and staff are not required to complete Consent Matters training, as UTS INSEARCH is a separate organisation to UTS. However, if an INSEARCH student commences study at UTS, they will be required to undertake the training, just like all new UTS students.

Kate Dennis, Head of Corporate Communications at UTS INSEARCH, says, “While UTS INSEARCH is not currently using Consent Matters, we have engaged a Welfare Officer to look at the best ways to address all aspects of the Respect. Now. Always. program, particularly taking into account the needs of our students, many of whom are developing their English skills.”

What is required from me to complete Consent Matters?

The online module, which can be found on the front page of UTSOnline once logged in, is delivered in four parts, plus there is a 10-question quiz at the end and an (optional) anonymous feedback survey.

According to Ms Pruscino, the four modules cover what constitutes consent, boundaries, respect, why open communication about sex is important, as well as advice and support. It’s expected to take about 60 minutes to complete, and UTS students are only expected to complete it successfully – which means clicking through each page and passing the quiz with 100% - once while at UTS. Participants can return to it any time during enrollment, and there is no limit to the amount of attempts.

When do I have to complete it by?

It is expected that the current cohort will have successfully completed the module before the 2018 Spring session results release.  

Is there a consequence for me not completing Consent Matters?

Coursework students are encouraged to complete the module before the 2018 Spring session results release, otherwise they will not receive their results.  

“It is really important to us that we have a strong community at UTS (inclusive of our staff and students) that is kind, looks out for one another, encourages good behaviour and supports each other, and we see this training as a step in the direction of achieving that”, said Ms Pruscino.

“We understand that it might seem irrelevant for some, or time-consuming, but it is really important to us that we all do it, both staff and students, to achieve the kind of informed supportive community and culture that we want at UTS.”

This article discussed sexual assault.

Specialist support is available by calling the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

 If you would like to report an incident of sexual assault to UTS, click here for more information. UTS also has support systems regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment available.

Other frequently asked questions regarding “Consent Matters” are available here. If you are worried that completing “Consent Matters” will cause you distress, click here.

Bronte Gossling is a third-year (oh my god, already?!) Journalism/International Studies (Spain) student, who has a penchant for being super organised but is also perpetually late to any and all engagements. Nice.