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Age of consent laws cannot be considered in isolation to other legislation concerning issues such as sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
For more information about the legislation concerning these issues, see the report (Quadara, Nagy, Higgins, & Siegel, 2015).
Sexting laws provide a good example of how digital sexual activity does not necessarily align with broader age of consent laws in Australia.
When an adult engages in sexual behaviour with someone below the age of consent, they are committing a criminal offence (child sexual abuse).In relation to sexual abuse charges in each state and territory, the key difference between child sexual assault and adult sexual assault is that adult sexual assault is based on the absence of sexual consent, whereas in child sexual assault, the issue of consent is superseded by age of consent laws (Eade, 2003).An important distinction should be made between "willingness" and "consent".A survey of Australian teens and their sexting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.For more information about young people and sexting, see Lawstuff and the Office of the Children's e Safety Commissioner.
Sexual interaction that is harmful and abusive between two young people under the legal age can be difficult to identify and determine.