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What is Consent?

Consent is important for any sexual activity. But what exactly does it mean?

Two people in a bed having a conversation about consent

What you need to know about consent

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

  • Consent means freely choosing to say ‘yes’ to a sexual activity
  • It’s needed for any kind of sexual activity, from touching or kissing to intercourse
  • It’s always clearly communicated - there should be no mystery or doubt
  • There are laws around who can consent and who can't
  • Without consent, any sexual activity is against the law and can be harmful

Only yes, means yes!

Silence or lack of resistance does NOT equal consent.

Consent is:

Mutual

You both need to agree, every single time.

Freely given

A choice you make without pressure, guilt or threats.

Informed

You understand what’s about to happen.

Certain & Clear

It’s a YES, not a ‘maybe’ or ‘I think so’ or ‘I guess so’.

Enthusiastic

You’re excited and WANT to do the sexual activity.

Reversible

You can stop or change your mind at any time. 

Specific

Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean yes to everything.

Ongoing

You need it before and during the activity, as well as next time!

What consent sounds like…

Consent should be clear, enthusiastic and certain. Remember, if it’s not a yes, then it’s a no!

Consent sounds something like:

"YES!"

"Yassssss"

"Absolutely"

"That sounds great"

"That feels awesome"

"Let's do that more"

"I'd like to..."

"Would you please..."

"I want to keep doing this"

"I'm enjoying this"

"Can we..."

What consent DOESN'T sound like

"No"

"Stop"

"Maybe"

"I'm not sure"

"I don't want to"

"I don't think I'm ready"

"Can we slow things down"

Pulling away or resisting

Being silent or not responding

Agreeing to go on a date

Showing interest in you

Consent and the law

If you don’t have consent, it's an offence.

It’s against the law to do sexual things (even kissing or touching) to someone if they have NOT given or are UNABLE to give consent. This is called sexual assault and it’s a crime.

The law also says that there are some situations where it is NEVER ok for someone to do sexual things with you, even if you consent! These are:

  • If you’re under the age of consent. The legal age for consensual sex varies across each state and territory. To find out more, visit the lawstuff website.
  • If the other person holds a position of authority, power or trust over you (such as a parent, family member, teacher, carer, support worker).

There are also laws about who can consent and who can’t

You can’t give consent if you are:

  • Under the legal age of consent
  • Severely affected by drugs or alcohol
  • In a vulnerable position (the other person has power or trust over you)
  • Being forced or afraid that someone will use force
  • Tricked into thinking the person is someone else
  • Under the belief that you can’'tor have no right to say no
  • Mistaken or tricked about what you're consenting to
  • Asleep or passed out
  • Semi-conscious or unconscious
  • Afraid you or someone else will be harmed ("If you don't, then I will…")
  • Made to feel too scared to say no
  • Pressured, bullied, manipulated or threatened
  • Not able to understand what you're consenting to
  • Prevented from leaving - locked in a room or car

Remember: it’s against the law to have sex or continue sex without consent. So even if the other person seems into it, the only way to know if you have consent is to ask.

How to get consent...

Asking for consent doesn’t have to be awkward! If done right, it can be flirty and respectful.

Here are some ways you might ask if you’re in the heat of the moment:

"Can I..?"

"Do you want me to..?"

"Want to try..?"

"Can we..?"

"Are you ready to..?"

"Do you like this?"

"Do you want to..?"

"Is this ok?"

"What do you want to do?"

"Do you want to stop?"

"Would you like to..?"

"Are you happy to go further?"

"How do you feel about?"

"How are you feeling?"

"Do you want to slow down?"

"Are you comfortable?"

If consent isn't given then it's a NO.

It's not ok to persist until you get a YES.

Consent is all about communication!

When both people check in and talk about what they want or don’t want to do, it keeps everyone safe and happy!

If you want to talk about or learn more about consent, give us a call, send us an email or talk to us on WebChat.

This content was last reviewed 15/10/2018

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