In the Australian Capital Territory, sexual offences laws are found in the Crimes Act 1900 (CA), as amended. The Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991 (EMPA) and the Evidence Act 2011 (EA) contain applicable rules of evidence.
Many of the provisions assessed meet good practice standards. For example, sexual assault covers all forms of non-consensual sexual penetration – by penis, objects and other body parts – of all orifices. Consensual same-sex sexual activity is not a crime. The EA prohibits a requirement for corroboration and the EMPA explicitly states that evidence of prior sexual conduct of the complainant is inadmissible, with limited exceptions.
The age of consent is 16 years for every person.
Other aspects of the legislation do not meet good practice standards and require reform. For example, non-penetrative sexual offences are partly contained within the moralistically termed offence of ‘act of indecency’, which are differentiated on the basis of whether force was used or not, and are not defined to include all forms of non- consensual sexual touching. The child sexual assault provisions in the CA are limited and do not expressly include, for example, sexual communication with a child or causing a child to watch sexual acts. These acts may be covered by the crime of ‘act of indecency’ or other offences, such as grooming, but this is not specified in the law. Sexual communication through electronic media is covered in federal legislation which applies in the Australian Capital Territory but is not assessed here. Close-in-age defences are limited and are not expressly excluded if there is a relationship of trust, authority, supervision or dependence between the parties (e.g. teacher, care-giver, employer, employee in an institution where the young person lives or studies, sports coach, religious leader).
The full assessment of Australia is available here.