Dating south australia
Developmentally appropriate sexual exploration is when there is mutual agreement between same- or similar-aged peers, it is non-coercive and all participants have the control to participate, continue or stop the behaviour (Barbaree & Marshall, 2006).
The state jurisdictions that provide a legal defence when the sexual interaction is between two young people close in age (Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory) are attempting to find a balance that protects children and young people from adult sexual exploitation in a way that does not criminalise them for having sexual relationships with their peers.
Reflecting on these three factors can help to clarify when behaviour is abusive.
Four areas of knowledge are required in order to give consent: understanding of what the physical act(s) involve, their meaning, society's laws and cultural norms, and possible consequences (Mc Carthy & Thompson, 2004).
Age of consent laws cannot be considered in isolation to other legislation concerning issues such as sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
For more information about the legislation concerning these issues, see the report (Quadara, Nagy, Higgins, & Siegel, 2015).
Sexting laws provide a good example of how digital sexual activity does not necessarily align with broader age of consent laws in Australia.
For more information about young people and sexting, see Lawstuff and the Office of the Children's e Safety Commissioner.
Although the legal age of consent throughout Australia is either 16 or 17 years of age, legislation in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory makes it an offence for a person in a supervisory role to sexually engage with a person under their special care who is aged 16 or 17 years.
A person in a supervisory role providing "special care" may include: a teacher, foster parent, religious official or spiritual leader, a medical practitioner, an employer of the child or a custodial official.
A child may be willing to engage in sexual behaviour; however, as they do not have the decision-making capacity to give consent according to law, all sexual interactions between an adult and a person under the age of consent are considered abusive (Barbaree & Marshall, 2006).
The legal age for consensual sex varies across Australian state and territory jurisdictions (see Table 1).