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
- Under 12 – no-one can have sex with you, touch you sexually or perform a sexual act in front of you. This includes anything to do with sexually explicit images.
- Age 12-15 – You can consent to sexual activities as long as the other person is no more than 2 years (24 months) older than you.
- If you’re 16 or 17 – You can consent to sexual activities except with someone who is caring for or supervising you. A person such as this cannot 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 laws apply to 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.
The law and other types of sexual activity
This is illegal:
- Incest (being sexually active with a brother, sister, mother, father etc)
- Bestiality (having sexual activity with an animal)
- Some forms of prostitution
- Sexting (send/receive intimate images).
Victorian Laws about intimate images
An intimate image is defined as 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.
More about the law in Victoria and intimate images see
In Victoria it is an offence for someone to distribute, or threaten to distribute, an intimate image of another person without that person’s consent.
In all other states of Australia, sexting is illegal if you are under 18. If you receive and keep intimate images of someone you don’t know, delete them. They may be from interstate and you may be charged.