Consent is where someone freely agrees to sexual activity. The person’s age is an important part of consent.
Consent can get a bit tricky…
Sometimes a person does not ‘freely’ agree to sexual activity. In Victoria, Australia, consent is not given if a person is:
- Afraid of harm to themselves or someone else
- Held captive
- Asleep/unconscious or drunk/drug affected
- Mistaken about the sexual nature of the act, or does not understand what is happening
- Mistaken that the act is for medical/hygienic purposes.
Your age is an important part of consent. In Victoria, the age of consent is 16 years old.
In Victoria, Australia the law states that:
- If you are 16 years of age or older you can consent to engage in sexual activity with someone 16 years of age or older except if that person is in a position of care or responsibility for you unless you and your partner are recognized as being legally married in Australia. People in a position of care or responsibility include your teacher, foster parent, employer, youth worker, sports coach, counselor and health professionals.
- If you are between 12 and 15 years old, it is illegal for a person to have sex with you, touch you sexually or perform a sexual act in front of you, even if you agree. However, it is recognized as normal and common for young people to want to experiment with sex with people their own age so the law for 12 to 15 year olds allows two legal defenses for illegal sexual activity. 1) if there is no more than 24 months difference in age between you and your partner, or 2) the older person honestly believed that there was less than 24 months age difference between the two of you, or that you were 16 years of age or older.
- If you are under 12 years old it is illegal for a person to have sex with you, touch you sexually or perform a sexual act in front of you, even if you agree.
- Having sex with a brother, sister or anyone in a familial relationship with you (like a step brother or sister or a step father or mother) is illegal no matter what age you are.
- It is illegal to have sex with animals at any age.
If you have a cognitive impairment such as a mental illness, intellectual disability, or brain injury, it is against the law for people providing services or programs for you to have sexual contact with you, even once you are over 18.
The laws on sex might be different to this depending on where you live. In Australia you can find out the law for your state or territory by clicking on the links below.