Age of consent laws are important measures for protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation. According to criminal law in Australia, the age of consent refers to the age a person is considered to be capable of legally giving informed consent to sexual acts with another person. When a person engages in sexual behaviour with someone below the age of consent, they are committing a criminal offence (child sexual abuse). This fact sheet outlines the principles behind this law, compares the age of consent across the different states and territories of Australia, and discusses legal defences against sexual interactions with persons under age, including 'normal' sexual exploration versus inappropriate and abusive sexual behaviour.
"This paper was prepared by Alister Lamont."
Replaces the NCPC resource sheet 'Age of consent laws', which was first produced in October 2009 by the National Child Protection Clearinghouse.
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