Consent isn't just about asking the question, it's about listening to and respecting the answer. "No," doesn't mean "convince me."
New affirmative consent laws took into effect in New South Wales on June 1 2022 after passing parliament last November. But consent is about more than just knowing where the line is before you break the law. Consent is a conversation and it starts long before intimacy begins.
But what exactly is affirmative consent?
How does it work?
What do these new laws mean?
And what support services are available for UNSW Students and Staff?
Well, we're here to help with all those answers!
Talking about sexual and gendered violence can be tough; be gentle with yourself and know that there are support services available for you should you want to speak to someone.
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NSW Affirmative Consent Laws
New affirmative consent laws took effect in NSW on 1 June 2022 after passing parliament last November.
What do these laws mean and how do they work?
Below is a brief overview of the changes and what they mean for people across the state.
What are the new laws?
The new laws require parties to give and obtain consent at the time of the act
What is affirmative consent?
Consent is defined as a free and voluntary agreement at the time of the act. While these words imply that consent must happen at the time intimate or sexual behaviours start, consent is an ongoing conversation, one where all parties engage have the right to change their mind at any given moment.
- A person is not considered as having consented unless they say or do something to indicate that consent has been given.
- A person cannot consent if they are so intoxicated that they cannot choose or refuse to participate and they cannot consent if they are asleep or unconscious.
- A person will also not have a reasonable belief that there is consent unless they have done or asked something to make sure.
- This means that you are unable to assume consent if someone did not say no or resist any advances. Instead, people who want to engage in intimate moments with people must actively say or do something to make sure that they have the consent of the other person or persons.
So what does that look like?
Asking directly is the best way to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable.
So, just ask:
- “Is this okay?”
- “Can I kiss you?”
- “Do you want to try ___?”
- “Want me to keep going?”
- “How does that feel?”
What about people who are already in a sexual, romantic or intimate relationship?For people who are already having consensual sex or intimate moments, these guidelines still apply. If you're concerned that these new laws might ruin your sex life or the way you're engaging in relationships, it may be time to speak to someone about the way you're engaging in sex and intimacy.
Whether you're in a committed monogamous relationship, you're engaging in polyamory and open relationships or you have a regular sexual partner with no strings attached, you should never assume that the consent given years, months, weeks or even hours prior to your sexual or intimate activity has not changed. Checking in with your partner or partners is how you can create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone involved.
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