What is Consent

Consent means the free and voluntary agreement to participate in an activity which may include an intimate or sexual relationship given by a person with the cognitive capacity to do so.

Consent is not freely and voluntarily given if the person is:

  • Under force;
  • Unconscious or asleep;
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Under threat or intimidation;
  • ‚ÄčIn fear of bodily harm;
  • Subjected to the exercise of authority;
  • Under false or fraudulent representations about the nature or purpose of the act, or
  • Under a mistaken belief that the offender was someone else (for example, their sexual partner).

In Queensland people under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex or sexual activity.

The Thames Valley Police, in the UK developed a short video in 2015 to demonstrate what constitutes consent by demonstrating sexual consent is as straightforward as making a cup of tea:

Consent is about good communication. When engaging in sexual activity:

  • Communication about consent involves words as well as gestures, and it must be clear, without a doubt, that there is a definite YES. The absence of ‘no’ is not consent;
  • Consent should never be assumed;
  • Consent needs to happen every time. So, agreeing to sex in the past does not mean automatic consent is given to sex in the future. This includes if you are married or in a relationship;
  • Consent is specific, so agreeing to one kind of sexual activity does not mean agreeing to other kinds of sexual activity;
  • Consent is an ongoing conversation and can be withdrawn at any point.