Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, and Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Hildegarde Naughton, have launched a new online learning hub to provide an integrated, publicly available resource on sexual consent awareness and consent learning resources.
At the heart of this partnership will be a dedicated website, with resources that the Active*Consent research team in NUI Galway has already developed for the third-level sector, as well as newly-designed resources supported by this project.
This initiative builds on the work of the pioneering Active* Consent team and comes as part of a government initiative to improve the understanding on the meaning of, and importance of, consent in sexual activity.
The partnership between the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and Active* Consent delivers on Action 135 of ‘Justice Plan 2021’ . As the partnership develops, it will contribute to the wider awareness campaign, led by the Department of Justice, around the meaning and understanding of consent.
The Department of Justice will providing funding of approximately €152,000 for Active*Consent to create the online learning hub, and is partnering with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on this important initiative. The funding will be used to supplement funding that is already available to the Active* Consent programme.
Launching the initiative, Minister Harris said, “no part of our society is untouched by sexual violence and harassment. People need to be safe, empowered, confident, and capable in their relationships and Ireland can take a leading role in confronting sexual violence and harassment. The work being done in our higher education sector on Consent can be a positive educator for other areas, and this online learning hub will provide an important resource not only for our higher education institutions, but also for a wider community.”
“For higher education students, the programme available through the hub reflects the three levels of the Active* Consent online programme – a consent workshop based on the team’s research; an eLearning resource on consent, sexual violence and harassment; and ongoing social media engagement into topics such as disclosure that links to students’ social media platforms.”
“For higher education staff, the three tiers of engagement available on the hub will provide awareness raising on definitions, skills, and student support practices; education for decision makers and leaders on how they can support lasting culture change; and in-depth training for those involved in consent education, support for student disclosures, and policy implementation.”
Minister Naughton, speaking at the launch of the sexual consent learning hub in NUI Galway, said, “there can be no place for any forms of sexual violence and harassment in our society, and there can be no room for doubt or ambiguity on the meaning and importance of consent. We must improve people’s understanding of what consent is, and what healthy consent looks like. This initiative will be an excellent resource for the third level sector and beyond.”
“It is an important commitment in Supporting a Victim’s Journey, the Department of Justice roadmap to improve the justice system for victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases, and will contribute to our national campaign on consent later this year.”
NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said, “NUI Galway is delighted to partner with the Department of Justice and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on this excellent initiative.”
“At the heart of NUI Galway’s values are respect and openness. By championing respect and openness through initiatives such as the online learning hub, we can have a profound and sustainable transformative impact on society. We look forward to supporting this initiative and all who participate.”
Dr Padraig MacNeela, Active* Consent Programme Co-Lead, NUI Galway, said, “the online learning hub is based around the idea of ‘consent literacy’ for all members of our society. This means that people feel confident in their knowledge and understanding of consent, their communication skills with partners, how to access supports themselves or help others to do so, and how we can safely challenge unacceptable aspects of our culture.”
“We will work with our partners such as Galway Rape Crisis Centre and Rape Crisis Network Ireland to create the resources we need to have a culture of consent in our colleges, schools, and communities.”