For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, you can contact us here.

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 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.

For example, a person does not give their consent if they feel threatened, forced or afraid, or are tricked. A person does not consent just because they are not resisting.

What do we mean by sex?

According to the law, sex means when a penis, finger, object or any part of a person is fully or partially inside another person’s vagina, anus. Sex also includes any kind of oral sex.

Sex 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.

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 who tries to have sex with you will be breaking the law.

In WA, the age of consent is 16. When you are 16 years or older, you can have sex with another person aged 16 or older so long as you both agree to it  (unless one person is the other person’s carer or supervisor—see below).

A person who has sex with another person who is under 16 years old is committing a crime. However, there is a legal defence to this if you are aged 13-15 and you agree to have sex with someone who is less than 3 years older than you and they believed you were older than 16.  For example, if Anna is 15 years of age and agrees to have sex with Tom who is 17 years age, and Tom believed that Anna was 16 years of age, then Tom would not be guilty of the crime of having sex with a person under 16 because he can rely on this legal defence.

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

Sex with a carer or supervisor

When you are 16 years or older, you can have sex with another person aged 16 or older if you both agree to it. However, it’s a crime for a person who is caring for you, supervising you or has authority over to have sex with you while you are between the ages of 16 to 18.   

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 serious 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 contact Sexual Health Quarters on (08) 9227 6177 or visit their website at:

Important contacts

You can contact the below 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 age 25. 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 people needing counselling advice or referrals to helpful services. You can call them on 1800 695 463, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

* Sexual Health Quarters is a clinic that provides sexual healthcare (safe sex) services and advice. You can them on (08) 9227 6177 or e-mail them at [email protected]


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



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