Annual Report to Children and Young People 2020-2021

Sexual consent laws should reflect contemporary understandings of healthy sexuality and consent. And while the Commissioner is hopeful that legislative changes will drive progress towards meeting the outcomes of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-20232, there is more work to be done in addressing systemic and cultural attitudes towards sex, relationships and consent.

The Commissioner particularly wants to ensure that any future amendments to sexual consent laws include additional safeguards against the criminalisation of young people engaging in consensual sexual activity.

In response to the discussion paper, the Commissioner recommends:

  1. That the South Australian age of consent be set to 16, making it uniform with most Australian jurisdictions, and as recommended by the Model Criminal Law Officers Committee and the Australian Law Reform Commission.
  2. That the age of defence be expanded to protect young people under the age of 16 from being criminalised for consensual sexual activity with another young person of similar age.
  3. The implementation of more comprehensive relationships and sexual health education in schools and communities to ensure affirmative consent is understood and practised.
  4. That a similar age of defence be implemented regarding intimate photographs between young people, provided the image has not been shared without consent.
  5. That any amendments to better protect victim-survivors of sexual assault or harassment are supported by appropriate training for the institutions required to uphold these laws.