Department of Education’s $3.8m milkshake videos one big PR mess

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

After days of industry critique and media scrutiny the Federal Department of Education Skills and Employment has removed two of the videos from its The Good Society educational platform, intended to teach adolescents about consent and healthy relationships through the euphemisms of milkshakes and sharks.

According to data from Streem, the campaign has been the subject of more than 1,800 media items from Monday morning to 4pm Tuesday, nearly all of them negative. Headlines such as ‘Bizarre’ government consent education videos featuring milkshakes, tacos slammed’ and, ‘Federal Government’s bizarre ‘milkshake’ consent video slammed by gender equality advocates’ ran across mainstream media as soon as the content was made public.

Brisbane-based digital agency Liquid Interactive was paid nearly $3.8 million by the government to build out online learning solutions to educating against domestic violence, according to the AusTender website.  The contract was initially worth $2.128 million but was upped by $1.66 million in April of 2018, making the total value almost half of the government’s investment into its ‘Respect Matters’ program aimed at reducing violence against women and children. The agency has not responded to Mumbrella’s request for comment.

The suite of 350 assets including video, podcast and written content was launched on Monday and quickly drew criticism from rape-prevention advocates, gender equality activists and the communications and media industries.

In particular criticism was aimed at the ‘Moving the Line’ video, which depicted a young woman smearing her milkshake over the face of her boyfriend without his permission. The film was criticised for its confusing metaphor for consent and abuse and comparing getting pizza with asking someone ‘can I touch your butt’.


Commentators also called out the depiction of a female perpetrator which statistically occurs far less often, as 97% of sexual violence is perpetrated by men.

In addition, people have pointed to the correlation between the video’s recommendation that the individuals in the film maintain a relationship, despite character ‘Bailey’ feeling disrespected, and the Coalition Government’s conservative family values.

The second film that has been removed showed a young man coercing his girlfriend with a speargun to swim in the ocean despite her fear of sharks, which is meant to represent her fear of sex due to risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

None of the films actually used the words sex, rape, or assault.

In a statement yesterday, secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Dr Michele Bruniges, said: “In response to community and stakeholder feedback, two videos have been removed.”

“The website contains about 350 resources aimed to support teachers and parents to educate students across all age groups about respectful relationships more broadly,” Dr Bruniges said in a statement.

“The website is designed to be a live and dynamic resource, with content added, removed, and modified, to ensure it remains current and appropriate.

“The department will continue to engage with experts to evaluate the materials that appear on the website to ensure they are fit for purpose and reflect current experiences and community issues.”

According to the department, The Good Society website was “created by experts and reviewed by a Resource Review Group of subject matter experts” and “community members, teachers, and school leaders were also consulted to ensure the content was engaging for students and consistent with community standards.”

“The responsibility for promoting respectful relationship requires a whole of community commitment,” a department spokesperson told Mumbrella.

“That is why the Government has taken a comprehensive approach to prevent violence against women and children through the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, of which the Respect Matters program is one element.”


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