South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault: ESafety website

Consent

What does consent mean?

Consent means someone agrees to do something because they want to do it, not because they are forced or feel pressured to do it.  Consent means free agreement.

With sexual consent, the law says that in order to consent to sexual activity, a person must:

  • Not be drunk, stoned or ‘out of it’
  • Be mentally able to make the decision, and
  • Be physically able to communicate their consent.
  • And silence is not consent. Just because someone does not say ‘no’ does not mean they have consented.

Age of consent for sex

Victorian law

  • Under 12 – no-one can have sex with you, touch you sexually or perform a sexual act in front of you. This includes sending sexually explicit images to them.
  • Age 12-15 - You can consent as long as the other person is no more than 2 years (24 months) older than you.
  • If you’re 16 or 17 – no-one caring for or supervising you can have sex with you, or touch you sexually, even if you agree. This includes people like teachers and health professionals.

The age of consent can be different in other Australian states or other countries.

The age of consent is the same for everyone – male, female, straight or gay.

Sexual activity without consent is called Rape / Sexual Assault.  Generally speaking, sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual behaviour that makes someone feel uncomfortable, intimidated or afraid.

Other types of sexual activity are illegal?

  • Incest
  • Bestiality
  • Some forms of prostitution
  • Sexting (send/receive intimate images).

Laws also apply to intimate images

An intimate image is a moving or still image that depicts:

  • A person engaged in sexual activity; or
  • A person in a manner or context that is sexual; or
  • The genital or anal region of a person or, in the case of a female, the breasts.

Changes have been made to Victoria’s law that make it an offence for someone to distribute, or threaten to distribute, an intimate image of another person without that person’s consent.

Summary

Consent must be given freely and voluntarily by both people. If you’re under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you cannot legally consent. If something is happening to us and we don’t feel comfortable, we all have the right to say no.

Other SECASA websites

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