A programme has been launched to give educators the information, skills and support they need to promote positive, active consent among learners.
The new Active* Consent programme, launched by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), will be rolled out across its Further Education and Training (FET) schools and colleges in Galway.
The announcement coincides with International Consent Day, which highlights the importance of consent as a practice and a tool for changing lives.
The programme will empower staff across the FET sector to facilitate workshops in their institutions, as well as training them on how to deal appropriately with a disclosure of sexual violence.
The initiative also aims to reach marginalised communities by adapting resources to engage traditionally hard to reach groups, such as communities experiencing socio-economic disadvantage and members of Ireland’s immigrant communities.
All courses are now available online to staff across the FET sector and consist of a number of training options, including: Facilitator Training, First Point of Contact Training and a Continuing Professional Development module on Sexual Consent Promotion.
Commenting on the launch of the Active* Consent programme in the FET sector, Minister Simon Harris said it has been part of his mandate all year to highlight the importance of active consent programmes in further and higher education.
“After the stark findings of a survey on sexual harassment and sexual violence experienced by college students and staff last year, I’m delighted to see that the FET sector has come on board,” said Minister Harris.
“It’s important that we start to embed cultural change around the topic of consent and staff and educators are at the frontline on this.
“Staff in further and higher education need to be trained in how to firstly, encourage open and honest conversations around consent, but also, how to deal with a disclosure of sexual assault or violence.”
Dr Fiona Maloney, Director of Further Education and Training at ETBI, said the FET programmes are delivered in a wide range of settings in Galway and across the country, including Post-Leaving Certificate and Further Education Colleges, Training Centres, Youth Reach and Adult Education Centres.
She said that Further Education and Training is also delivered through community and voluntary groups, commercial training providers and in workplaces.
“It’s important that our FET staff across Galway have the tools they need to support learners and feel equipped to deal with difficult and emotive situations should they arise.
“While schools and higher education have had dedicated programmes on consent, sexual violence and harassment, up until now there had been no formal programme within the FET sector. This will set a standard within the sector and ensure that we can foster a culture of agency, autonomy, and positive, active consent.
“It’s inspiring to see the significant uptake we’ve already had for this programme after a very successful pilot in July and the interest shown by staff across the FET sector. The feedback from staff undertaking the training has been hugely positive, which is reflected in the level of care for our learners.”
Aideen Lyster, Guidance Counsellor at Inchicore College of Further Education, said: “As a guidance counsellor in a busy college of further education, I am in direct contact with learners on a day-to-day basis.
“Participating in the Active*Consent programme was very rewarding with sessions that were informative, skills-based, engaging, and supportive.
“Not only does the programme address all the issues, concerns and questions regarding active consent, it has also given me the skills to be a first point of contact for anyone who has experienced any form of sexual trauma and to support them in an empathic, compassionate and professional way.”
The Active*Consent programme is an initiative run by NUI Galway and funded by the Department of Justice, together with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
Further information and resources are available on consenthub.ie/