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Consent and sexual consent – information for parents, carers and families

This information can help parents, families and carers talk with their child about:

  • consent
  • sexual health
  • respectful relationships.

What is consent

Consent is agreeing to something or giving permission for something.

Sexual consent is agreeing to take part in sexual activity. Consent can only be given if everyone involved:

  • freely and clearly choose to take part
  • understand what they are agreeing to
  • can change their mind at any time.

Consent is essential to healthy, respectful and safe sexual experiences.

Why it’s important to talk to your child about consent

It’s important for children to learn about giving and getting consent. Those who do are more likely to have healthy, respectful relationships and safe sexual experiences – when they are ready for them.

Children and young people learn about sex and relationships from lots of different sources. Make sure that you provide them with accurate information. This can help them make informed choices to keep them and others safe.

By talking with your child about these things respectfully and non-judgementally, you:

  • strengthen your relationship
  • let them know they can come to you for information about sex and relationships.

Tips for talking to your child about consent

Talking with your child about consent will depend on their age and stage of development.

With younger children you can introduce ideas about consent without relating it to sex or relationships. As your child gets older you can talk more directly about sexual consent.

Talk to your child early and often.

Here are some webpages with advice on talking about consent with your child:

Legal age for consent

Consent can only be given if all people involved are over the legal age for sexual consent. Age of consent laws protect children and young people from abuse or exploitation by adults or older young people. They also enable their safe participation in sexual activity, when they are ready.

Legal definitions of consent vary across Australian states and territories. In South Australia, the legal age of consent is 17 years.

Find out more about consent laws in Australia:

What schools teach about consent

Your child may learn about consent at preschool or school. Respectful relationships and consent education are taught through:

The KS:CPC is a respectful relationships and child safety curriculum for children and young people from preschool to year 12. It’s taught to every year level in all public preschools and schools. Before they can teach the KS:CPC, teachers must complete a full-day training course.

Learning about respectful relationships is at the foundation of the KS:CPC. The curriculum is set up so that what students are taught is appropriate for their age and developmental stage.

Education about sexual health and relationships is also included in the Health and Physical Education curriculum.

Talk to your preschool or school

You can contact your child’s preschool or school if you want more information about consent education and Keeping Safe: Child Protection Curriculum activities.

Use the school, preschool and other services finder to find contact details.

South Australian support and resources

More information and support about consent, sexual health and respectful relationships is available at:

Disability or learning difficulty resources

The Special Education Resource Unit (SERU) has teaching and learning materials for parents and carers to support students with a disability or learning difficulties. This includes sex education and child protection materials.

Engagement and Wellbeing

Email: education.engagementandwellbeing [at] sa.gov.au