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Deciding to have sex with someone is an important decision. If you think that you are ready to have sex, it is important that you are aware of the different laws about how old you have to be to have sex, and to understand what the law means by sex. Before you have sex, you should talk to a health professional about how to practice safe sex and to make sure you are fully aware of the risks of practising unsafe sex.

Remember, it is NEVER ok for someone to force you to have sex without your permission – you have the right to say NO at any time.

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What you need to know – summary

The age of consent is the age at which the laws says you can agree to have sex. In Queensland, the age of consent is 16.

Once you turn 16, you can legally have sex with another person who is also aged 16 years or older (as long as you both agree to it).

What does age of consent mean?

The age of consent is the age at which the law says you can agree (consent) to have sex.  If you are under the age of consent, the law says that you cannot legally agree to have sex, and any person that tries to have sex with you has broken the law.

In Queensland, the age of consent is 16.

It is never ok for a person to have sex with a person under 16 years old. However, there is one exception to this. If you are aged 12-15 and agree to have sex with someone aged 16 or older and the person thought you were 16 or older, they will not be breaking the law.

It’s also important to note that while you are under 16, it is also a serious criminal offence for someone who is caring for you, supervising you or has authority over you, like a teacher, sports coach, youth worker, counsellor, foster carer, religious instructor, health professional, police officer or employer to have sex with you.

If you have a question or want some legal help about the age of consent, you can contact us here.

What does consent mean?

“Consent” means giving your free and voluntary agreement to sex. It is never ok for someone to assume you have given consent or to force you to keep going if you want to stop. A person can also withdraw their consent at any time during sex.

A person does not give their consent if they:

  • feel threatened, forced or afraid;
  • are forced to have sex by a person due to their position of authority; or
  • are tricked into having due to a misunderstanding about the nature of the act or the identity of the other person.

What do we mean by sex?

Sex means when a penis, finger, object or any part of a person is fully or partially inside another person’s vagina or anus.

Sex here does not involve kissing, or touching if there is no penetration. However, please be aware that other sexual activity that doesn’t technically involve penetration may be considered indecent assault. For more information about these laws please see our Queensland page on Indecent Assault.

Also, there are also special laws applying to sex that is filmed, photographed or distributed online or by phone, for more information about these laws please see our Queensland page on Sexting.

What happens if someone breaks these laws?

If someone is found guilty of breaking the laws around age of consent, they can be charged with a serious criminal offence, sent to jail and placed on a public sex offender registry.

The public sex offender registry is a list of adults who have been found guilty of a sex crime. Registered sex offenders are required to keep the police informed about their personal details and whereabouts. They are also required to report the names and ages of children with whom they live or have regular contact.

Registered sex offenders are not allowed to work in any child-related employment.

Talking about safe sex

Deciding to have sex with someone is a big step. Remember that the decision is up to you. If you feel pressured to have sex, or if you’re not sure you want to, you can say no. The other person must respect your choice. If they try to have sex with you without your agreement, they are committing a crime.

If you are thinking about having sex, please be aware of the risks that are involved with unsafe or unprotected sex. These risks include:

  • getting a sexually transmissible infection (STI) like chlamydia;
  • getting a blood borne virus like HIV; or
  • unplanned pregnancy.

For information about how you can protect yourself against the risks of unsafe sex, you can contact True at one of their Queensland locations or visit their website at: . 

Important contacts

You can contact any of the services to talk about anything relating to sex including safe sex, if you’re not sure what is considered normal in a relationship, or if you are worried you might be pregnant.

They are not the police or a government department, and you do not have to give them your name if you don’t want to.

  • Kids Helpline provides free and private counselling to young people up to 25 years of age. You can talk to them about anything that’s affecting you at any time, day or night on 1800 55 1800.
  • 1800Respect is a national helpline, providing counselling, information and support. You can call them on 1800 737 732, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • 1800MYLINE is a national helpline for sexual assault, family & domestic violence, available 24/7. They provide counselling, advice, or referrals to helpful services. You can call them on 1800 695 463, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • True is a clinic that provides sexual healthcare (safe sex) services and advice. You can contact True at one of their Queensland locations or email them at   

If you have a legal question, and you are aged 24 or under, you can get help here.

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