Sexual consent and the law
Sexual consent and the law
Year level: 9 or 10
Students analyse sexual consent and the law through real life scenarios.
Actions and strategies to enhance health and wellbeing in a range of environments, such as: identifying and managing risky situations (ACPPS091).
Impact of external influences on the ability of adolescents to make healthy and safe choices relating to: sexuality; and risk taking (ACPPS092).
Skills to deal with challenging or unsafe situations: refusal skills; initiating contingency plans; expressing thoughts; opinions, beliefs; acting assertively (ACPPS090).
Consent is the free agreement to do something.
Sexual consent must be mutual, freely given, informed, certain, clear and can be removed at any time.
Without consent, any sexual activity is sexual assault.
The laws around sexual assault are there to help protect people from harm.
Understanding the laws helps to prevent sexual assault from happening.
- Item belonging to another person in the class (e.g. pencil)
Video: Tea is consent (2min 50sec video)
1 x Y chart for each group of 4-6 students (electronic, photocopy or butchers paper)
Teaching Resource: Consent scenarios [one per group]
No General Capabilities values have been selected.
Health and physical education(P)
This strand will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills to support a positive sense of self, to effectively respond to life events and transitions and to engage in their learning. Effective communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills are integral to this strand as they help to establish and maintain relationships in family, school, peer group and community settings, support healthy and safer behaviours, and enable advocacy. Students will source and examine a range of health information, products, services and policies, and evaluate their impact on individual and community health and safety.
Blooms revised taxonomy
No Blooms values have been selected.
Inquiry learning phase
No Inquiry Learning phase values have been selected.
Before you get started
Consider the timing of this lesson given the possible triggering content. It may be best delivered before a lunch break or at the end of the day so that students have time to process information before another lesson and have time to seek help if required.
Liaise with the school health team (e.g. Community health nurse, school psychologist) to inform them of the content you will be covering in class. It may be helpful to have these additional adults in these lessons or on standby for any individual or small group work that may need to take place.
Be aware that discussing topics such as sexual consent and sexual assault can be upsetting for people as they reflect on their own experiences or that of people close to them. Be prepared for possible disclosures and know protective interrupting techniques.
Consider your own thoughts, feelings, attitudes and values on this topic and be aware of how they may influence the way you present this activity. Be aware of your own self-care and support networks.
Preview Tea is consent (2min 50sec video) to determine suitability for your students. NB: There are a number of versions of this video online. Some contain expletives and some are spoofs of the video - please check that you have the correct video before use.
Group agreement and self care
Teaching tip: A group agreement must be established before any Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) program begins to ensure a safe learning environment. Read: Essential information: Establishing a group agreement for tips on how to create one and what to include.
- Revise the class group agreement.
Remind students that throughout the lesson they can write any questions down and add them to the question box at the end of the lesson (if they do not wish to ask them during the lesson). See Essential information - Setting up a question box.
"This lesson covers the topic of sexual consent and sexual assault. These topics can sometimes be difficult for people. If you feel uncomfortable, you may like to take a break from the room.
Before we start, let's check that everyone knows where to go for help if you want to check anything that this lesson raises for you."
- Ask students:
❓ Who are some trusted adults you can talk to?
(Possible answers: parents, grandparents, teacher, older siblings, doctor, other family members, etc)
Teaching tip: It is important not to tell students who their trusted adults are or should be. You can offer a list of suggestions of who they might be. For some students, some of the people you suggest, may not be people that are safe for them to talk to. Students should not be made to share their list of trusted adults publicly unless they wish to do so.
❓ Who are some people at this school that you can talk to?
(Possible answers: class teacher, other teachers, school psychologist, community health nurse, youth workers, etc )
❓ What services and online support is available?
What is consent?
Ask for a volunteer to bring an item belonging to them (e.g. a pencil) to the front of the class to model the following examples of consent/not consent.
Person 1: "May I borrow your pencil please?" Person 2: "Yes" (hands pencil) Person 1: (takes pencil)
"This is clear, affirmative consent."
Person 1: "May I borrow your pencil please?" Person 2: (no answer) Person 1: (takes pencil)
"Even though, I asked politely, I did not get consent. The absence of a 'no' is not a 'yes'."
Person 1: "May I borrow your pencil please?" Person 2: "No, sorry." Person 1: "Awww, come on. I let you use my pen last week". Person 2: "Errr, hmmm, OK I guess."
"Is this consent?" (no, it has been coerced or pressured).
Person 1: "May I borrow your pencil please?" Person 2: (nods head, smiles and hands pencil)
"Is this consent?" (yes, non-verbal consent)
"What if they weren't smiling and nodding?" (unclear if consent has been given).
"How could we check to make sure we have consent?" (ask the person again, ask for clarification, not take the pencil until we are sure).
"What if they let me borrow their pencil yesterday?" (Not consent - consent has to be given on each occasion).
"What if I took the pencil and used it to scratch under my armpit?" (Not consent. It is unlikely the person understood what they were agreeing to).
"What if I borrow the pencil and then they change their mind and want the pencil back?" (consent has been removed and the pencil should be returned).
"The same principles apply to consent in sexual situations. Consent must be certain, clear, informed, freely given and it can be removed at any time."
Video: Tea is consent
"We are going to watch a 3 minute video that uses drinking tea as an analogy for sexual consent"
Watch: Tea is consent (2min 50sec video)
❓ What did you think about the video?
❓ What were the key messages of the video?
(Possible answers: consent can be removed, you can't make someone consent, you can change your mind, it's ok to change your mind, unconscious people can't consent, consenting last week does not mean consenting this week)
What consent looks like, feels like, sounds like
Divide class into groups of 4-6 using Grouping strategy: Birthday line up
❓ How difficult was it to line up without talking?
❓ How did you communicate your birthday to others?
(Using my fingers, wrote it down, pointed to a calendar /display in the room, etc)
❓ Were there any miscommunications?
❓ What would make it easier to check the non-verbal communication?
(Ask them, verbal communication, etc)
"Communication is vital when it comes to checking for sexual consent. You need to be sure that your partner is OK and consenting to any sexual activity. Although we can communicate and consent non-verbally, the only way to be sure is to ask and get an enthusiastic 'Yes!' We are going to explore some different ways that consent may be communicated."
- Use Teaching Strategy: Y chart to explore what consent looks like, feels like, sounds like.
Teaching tip: Depending on your classroom demographics, you may wish to have additional adults assisting with this activity or to do the activity as a whole class if you feel the class require closer guidance.
Kissing you back
Touching you back
16 years and older
Someone voluntarily taking their clothes off
Everyone involved wants to be there
Not drunk or drugged
Freely given (not pressured or coerced)
Them pulling you closer
"That feels good"
"Do it again"
Continually checking in by asking:
Asking 'Is this OK?',
'Does this feel good?'
'Would you like to try?'
"It is important to remember that consent is an ongoing conversation. Each of these answers are just examples of things that might help to determine if someone is consenting. It is important to keep checking in with a partner."
Sex and the law
Look at the Youth Law Australia website and demonstrate how to navigate to the WA laws and the section on Sex and consent.
❓ What is legal age of consent in WA?
(In WA, the age of consent is 16. When you are 16 years or older, you an have sex with another person aged 16 or older as long as you are both consenting. However, it is a crime for a person who is caring fo you, supervising you or has authority over you (like a teacher, coach, boss) to have sex with you while you are between the ages of 16-18.)
❓ What do we mean by 'sex'?
(According to the law, sex means when a penis, finger, object or any part of a person is fully or partially inside another person's vagina or anus. Sex also includes any kind of oral sex. Sex, according to the law, does not involve kissing, or touching if there is no penetration. However, these other kinds of sexual activity can be against the law without consent as it is considered indecent assault)
❓ Why are there laws around the age of consent in WA?
How do the laws about consensual sex differ from the unwritten rules or expectations?
Do the unwritten rules and expectations around teenage sexual relationships vary with age, e.g. would your parents have different ideas about these rules or expectations?
Do these unwritten rules and expectations vary depending on where you are, e.g. at school, at a school dance, at a friend’s place, at the park?
Do the laws about consensual sex vary with where you are?
Where do these unwritten rules and expectations around teenage sexual relationships come from?
Stress that regardless of age, if someone has not given consent to sexual activity and it has taken place, it is a crime.
Independent or Small Group
Students apply their knowledge of sexual consent to scenarios.
Provide each small group with a copy of the Teaching Resource: Consent scenarios.
Ask students to read the scenario they have been given, identify the key points, discuss whether the situation is consenting or not and identify a reason for their answers.
Each group shares their scenario and their findings with the whole class. Discuss questions or concerns and clarify any inconsistencies as they arise.
Highlight the three important legal aspects of consent:
People must be of legal age to have sex (WA – 16 years of age)
People must be willing and want to have sex
People must be able to have sex (not on drugs, asleep or have a disability that affects their decision making skills).
Have students review the section on 'sex' on the Youth Law Australia website and write five things that they have learnt about the legal aspects of consent.
Students should be made aware that sex without consent is considered a crime. For support, people can contact the school psychologist, school nurse, the Legal Aid WA InfoLine, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, Sexual Assault Resource Centre or the police.
External related resources
A teaching resource from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.
- Real-life scenarios for problem solving and decision-making
- Sexual assault
- Rights and responsibilities