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In Tasmania and South Australia the age of consent is 17 years of age.

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.

For more information about the legislation concerning these issues, see the report (Quadara, Nagy, Higgins, & Siegel, 2015).

Age of consent laws are designed to protect children and young people from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Mc Lelland (2016, p.4) points out that, "in many jurisdictions provisions aimed at protecting young people from sexual predation and exploitation can also be used to criminalise and prosecute the sexual self-expression of those under the age of 18" - even when the young person is at the age of consent.

A survey of Australian teens and their sexting behaviours finds that, "16-17 year olds must navigate sexual practices that can be both consensual and legal, but illegal to visually record" (Albury, Crawford, & Byron, 2013, p. This can present challenges to young people and those who work with them.

An important distinction should be made between "willingness" and "consent".

A child may be willing to engage in sexual behaviour; however, as they do not have the decision-making capacity to give consent according to law, all sexual interactions between an adult and a person under the age of consent are considered abusive (Barbaree & Marshall, 2006).

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.

Recent sex education programs for children and young people aged below or at the age of consent have shifted from a dominantly risk-based paradigm to building knowledge and resilience, particularly with regard to contemporary matters such as digital technologies.

Public concern about young people's healthy sexual development now includes debates regarding their use of information and communication technologies, the majority of which are internet-enabled.

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.

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