Age of consent online dating
When an adult engages in sexual behaviour with someone below the age of consent, they are committing a criminal offence (child sexual abuse).
Age of consent laws cannot be considered in isolation to other legislation concerning issues such as sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
Individuals are encouraged to check the currency of any information that is provided by contacting relevant departments or organisations.
This sheet is designed to inform practitioners and researchers of age of consent legislation in Australia.
A survey of Australian teens and their sexting behaviours finds that, "16-17 year olds must navigate sexual practices that can be both consensual and legal, but illegal to visually record" (Albury, Crawford, & Byron, 2013, p. This can present challenges to young people and those who work with them.
Ryan (1997) proposed three factors that must be considered in order to evaluate sexual interactions between two or more children: consent, equality and coercion.
Reflecting on these three factors can help to clarify when behaviour is abusive.
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.
Sexual interaction that is harmful and abusive between two young people under the legal age can be difficult to identify and determine.
The widespread use of mobile phones has led to a number of legal interventions that attempt to protect children from sexual exploitation in online environments.