What is consent?

What is consent


There has been a lot of discussion in the media over the past month about consent, but what does this actually mean and why is it so important?


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

It is….

  • only consensual when both parties communicate freely with a ‘yes’
  • always required from either party from touching to kissing and beyond
  • is ALWAYS reversible and if you don’t feel comfortable during the process you can change your mind at any time, even if you had consented at the start of the intimacy

It is not….

  • forced or pressured by one person onto the other person
  • implied…a ‘maybe’ or ‘I think so’
  • given once and then applies to every time. Just because consent is given once doesn’t mean it extends to every occasion of intimacy
  • saying yes out of fear

A person cannot give consent if…

  • the person is incapacitated or unconscious as a result of alcohol and/or drugs
  • the person is a minor (under 16 years of age)
  • the person is mistaken or tricked about what you’re consenting to
  • they are in a vulnerable position (the other person has power or trust over you like a teacher or medical professional)

What consent DOESN’T sound like…

  • no
  • maybe
  • stop
  • I don’t want to
  • being silent or not responding
  • I’m not sure
  • I don’t think I’m ready
  • pulling away or resisting
  • only agreeing to go on a date


If someone has sex with you or touches you sexually when you are asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol or drugs that you are not able to freely agree, it is a sexual offence. It is also a sexual offence if you have not given direct consent for the intimacy to take place.

If someone does something to make you feel that you have been assaulted, you can seek help from health and counselling services, including sexual assault services. This applies even when you don’t want to report to police, or if you have reported to the police, but they do not believe that a crime has been committed.

Always report any sexual assault you have experienced immediately.

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