Holly Brennan

Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane

Masterclass ‘Eyes Wide open’ expert presenter and panellist

Friday  workshop

Holly Brennan is the Manager of Research and Program Development at Family Planning Queensland.  She develops s*xuality and relationships education programs, prevention of childhood s*xual abuse programs and s*xual behaviour programs for the education, child protection, early childhood and disability sectors. 

Holly is the author and project coordinator of numerous resources including:  the early childhood children’s book Everyone’s got a bottom, the Guide for adults to Identify, Assess and Respond to s*xual behaviours which cause concern in children and adolescents, the disability package Every Body Needs to Know and the educational CD Rom Feel Safe.

She has been the recipient of several awards; 2010 SH&FPA President’s Award, 2007 Child Protection Week, 2003 Education Queensland Showcase Awards for Excellence, the Disability Action Week Award 2003, the 2002 Child Protection Week – Curriculum in Schools Award and 2001 Princess Alexander Hospital Recognition Award.

Her new book, which she has co–authored with fellow educator Judy Graham, Is this normal? A guide for parents and carers to understand s*xual behaviour in children will be out at the end of 2011.

Family Planning Queensland (FPQ) is a leading provider of s*xual and reproductive health services to people in Queensland.  FPQ has been providing education, resources, professional development and information services to children, families and educators for nearly forty years.


Ignorance is not Innocence: Why talk about s*xuality, s*xualisation, s*xual behaviours and prevention of s*xual abuse in our classrooms?

Too often public discourse on perceived controversial topics is presented as polarised along the “for or against” continuum. This makes for entertaining debate, but doesn’t really help build practice or protect the most vulnerable. This is seen in the arena of children and s*xuality. The overwhelming majority of people want children to be safe, however there remain significant myths about what it means to protect children in this area.

In most areas of knowledge we try and enlighten children… not so with s*xuality. Far from providing enlightenment we evade, remain silent, we put children off by saying they are not old enough to understand, we provide partial and misleading information, or we tell downright lies… As in other skills and meaning that children acquire, they need a gradual and encouraging process of explanation and support for the s*xual meaning.

(Goldman and Goldman 1988)

Messages related to s*xuality can be both positive and negative. Adults sometimes need to take off their adult glasses in order to better understand or view childhood s*xuality. Having a holistic view of s*xuality that isn’t centred on s*x can help remove some of the controversy and discomfort. Teachers and education staff can incorporate into their daily practice strategies to support healthy s*xual development of children and young people and provide assistance to parents and carers to support their children regarding informed, healthy and safe explorations of s*xuality.

There is a real need for a ‘healthy s*xuality framework’ to sit alongside an understanding of s*xualisation, problem s*xual behaviours and s*xual abuse. 

Without an evidence based comprehensive approach to s*xuality in our schools there is no counter balance to the messages and images we are concerned that our children and young people are receiving. S*xuality and relationships education is a sensible part of the solution to s*xualisation, not part of the problem.