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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.For further information regarding sexual interaction with 16 and 17 years old under special care please see the relevant state or territory legislation.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).According to theoretical and practical understandings of consent, those key elements include: Equality relates to the balance of power and control between those involved in sexual activities.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.Ryan (1997) proposed three factors that must be considered in order to evaluate sexual interactions between two or more children: consent, equality and coercion.
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.
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.
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.
Sexting laws provide a good example of how digital sexual activity does not necessarily align with broader age of consent laws in Australia.