Consent, sexual offences and child abuse

Consent is a voluntary agreement between people to engage in any sexual activity.

There must be consent every single time you engage in sexual activity. You can change your mind at any time, and consent cannot be assumed, otherwise it may be considered an offence.

In Victoria, the age of consent is 16 years old. A child cannot give consent, and any sexual activity is automatically considered abuse.

Consent is an agreement between participants to take part in sexual activity. It should happen every time for every type of sexual activity.

Consent requires ongoing communication. It requires everyone involved to agree to engage in that activity. 

If consent has not been given, this can be very serious and may be considered a criminal offence.

Consent cannot be given by anyone who is: 

  • underage (under 16 years of age)
  • intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol
  • asleep or unconscious
  • being forced or have a fear of force or harm, including:
    • economic
    • financial
    • reputational
    • psychological harms
    • harms to family, cultural and community relationships
    • harm to the person’s employment and sexual harassment.
  • unable to understand the sexual nature of what is happening
  • shown false or misleading representation that they will be paid for commercial sexual services
  • being coerced or intimidated
  • pressured due to a relationship of authority or trust
  • held against their will
  • mistaken about the identity of the other person
  • led to believe it is for a medical or hygienic purpose
  • told a condom will be used which is then removed or tampered with, or the person who was to use the condom does not use it (stealthing)
  • consenting initially to the act – and later withdrawing consent to the act taking place or continuing.

In some cases, some older Victorians or people living with a disability may also not be able to consent.

Always think carefully before sharing intimate or explicit images of yourself. Even if you are in a relationship with the person you are sending the image to, remember that digital images can be used against you. 

Sharing images should occur between people who:

  • consent, and
  • are both over 18 years of age. 

Remember that once you send digital images/videos, they are no longer private. Once sent, you are no longer in control of what happens to them.

Sharing and permissions

If you share an intimate image or video of yourself with someone, it doesn't give them permission to share it with anyone else or to show it to other people.

Image-based sexual offending

Image-based sexual offending is also known as sexting. It involves someone producing, sharing or threatening to share an intimate photo or video of a person without their consent.

Learn more about image-based sexual offending.

In Victoria, the age of consent is 16 years old.

New laws came into effect on 30 July 2023 that support an affirmative consent model. 

These new laws mean that a person must say or do something to check if they have consent for a sexual act. Consent cannot be assumed. This includes situations where a person has consented to the same / different sexual act with the same / different person before.

In Victoria, the law says all parties must freely agree to the sexual act/s for there to be consent.

How police can help

If you are unsure about consent and want to learn more, you can contact your local police station. (opens in a new window)

You can then ask to speak to someone from the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT).

How to report a sexual offence

Report a recent or historical (past) sexual offence to Victoria Police on our Report a sexual offence page. 

How to report child abuse

Report a recent or historical (past) case of child abuse to Victoria Police on our Report child abuse page.