Australia is a federal country with six states and two territories. Each state and territory has its own criminal law jurisdiction, which includes legislation on sexual offences. While there are many similarities in the law across the jurisdictions, they are not identical. For this reason, each jurisdiction is reported on separately here. In addition, there are some federal criminal laws that include sexual offences. These apply in each state and territory as well, but are not assessed in this research.
In many respects, the sexual offences laws assessed in this review meet the good practice standards: consensual same-sex sexual activity is not a crime in any jurisdiction; marital rape is a crime and no defence of marriage applies; and all non-consensual acts of sexual penetration are criminalised.
Most jurisdictions criminalise a wide range of specific child sexual offences, including grooming, and do not allow a defence of consent to these crimes. However, in some jurisdictions, the law requires further reform, including for example: providing that evidence of resistance to a sexual assault is not necessary to prove that sexual activity took place without consent; that consent cannot be inferred from a complainant’s silence or submission during the assault; and ensuring that the consent regime applies without discrimination to people with disability.
Australia is a state party to relevant international and regional human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The full assessment of Australia is available here.