What is consent?

Consent, simply put, is deciding whether you want to do something or not.

When it comes to sex, it is a clear agreement to being sexual with someone.  This means understanding what's about to happen, deciding if you want to do it or not and being happy with your choice.

Consent is the first step in every healthy sexual experience. It shows you respect other people's choices, decisions, boundaries, body and feelings. Most importantly, it also shows the person you’re with is happy and comfortable to have sex with you.

Consent is ...

  • A clear and enthusiastic 'Yes!'

    Never assume you have someone’s consent — always be clear and ask for their consent. If a person hesitates by 'umming' or 'ahhing', or is silent, they’re not consenting.

  • Ongoing and not a one off

    You can withdraw consent at any time, including before or during sex.

    Consenting to one sexual activity doesn't mean consenting to all sexual activities. Consenting to sex one time doesn't mean you're consenting to sex in the future.

    No matter how long you’ve known someone, or how many times you’ve had sex with them before, you and your partner still need to consent.

  • Coherently granted

    People can't consent to sex when they're too affected by alcohol or drugs. People also can't consent to sex when they're asleep or not fully awake.

    You can't give consent if you don’t know what’s happening.

    If a potential partner is drunk or on drugs, you need to be responsible about consent. This means noticing how intoxicated your partner is. Are they slurring their words? Are they stumbling or struggling keep their balance? Are they falling asleep?

    If they're not coherent, they can't give consent.

  • Voluntary and freely given

    Every person has the right to choose when, where and how they have sex – and who they have sex with. Sex should never be forced on anyone.

    Repeatedly asking someone for sex until they say yes isn't consent – it’s coercion.

    Always respect your partner's right to say no. If someone hasn't given their consent, it’s sexual assault.

    Read more about sexual abuse and assault on the Queensland Government website.

  • A conversation

    There's no one right way to talk about consent. What’s important is that you ask, listen and respect the other person’s decision.

    While consent can be expressed differently among different people, one thing is clear – if a person isn't certain, you can’t call it consent. Uncertainty is the cue for you to stop and listen to their answer and to respect it.

  • Legal

    A person can't have sex with, or perform a sex act with, someone who hasn't given their consent. It's illegal to have sex, or to continue to have sex, with a person who changes their mind and no longer consents.

    Watch this video to learn more about what consent is and isn't.

Legal age of consent

In Queensland the legal age of consent is 16 years.

If you're 16 or older, you can legally have sex with another person who is also 16 or older – as long as you both consent.

Learn more about age of consent laws in Australia on the Australian Institute of Family Affairs website.

Consent and the right to say 'No'

You have the right to say no to any form of sex with any person at any time. It doesn't matter why. Even if you’re naked or having sex, it’s your right to change your mind and withdraw your consent.

It's a common misunderstanding that because someone doesn't actually say no, that consent is implied. Check in with your partner regularly during sex and stop if they seem unresponsive, uncomfortable or quiet. They might not be able to tell you to stop or that they're no longer comfortable.

Consent, condoms and STIs

If you’re having safe sex, chances are you’ve had a conversation with the other person about using condoms.

If they don’t agree to use condoms, and you want to, you can say no to sex.

If they have a visible sore, ulcer or lump on their genitals, anal area or mouth you also have the right to say no.

Last updated: May 2024