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Reform of sexual consent laws

Information about changes to consent laws announced by the NSW Government.

Browse Sexual Consent Reforms

On 23 November 2021, the NSW Parliament passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Consent Reforms) Bill 2021 to implement consent reforms that aim to:

  • clarify consent provisions in the Crimes Act 1900, including that consent is a free and voluntary agreement that should not be presumed, and that consent involves ongoing and mutual communication
  • strengthen laws to provide that if someone consents to one sexual act, it doesn’t mean they’ve consented to other sexual acts
  • ensure fairer and more effective prosecutions of sexual offences
  • address misconceptions about consent in trial proceedings
  • improve victim experience of the justice system and juror understanding of the complexities of sexual offending and reporting through the introduction of new jury directions.

Targeted education programs for judges, legal practitioners and police will now take place, ahead of the new laws commencing in mid-2022.

The NSW Government supported, or supported in principle, all 44 recommendations made by the NSW Law Reform Commission (LRC) in its report: Report 148: Consent in relation to sexual offences (the Consent Review). The NSW Government's reform goes further than the LRC’s recommendations in one important way, by providing that any belief in consent that an accused person had (or may have) at the time of sexual activity will not be reasonable in the circumstances if the accused did not say or do anything to ascertain consent.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has also established a research project to better understand the experiences of complainants of sexual offences within the criminal justice system.

Read the media release about the passing of the Bill and the factsheet about the reforms to sexual consent laws.

For more information about the shared commitment in the education sector to drive community and cultural change in relation to sexual violence visit the Department of Education’s website.

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Last updated: 01 Dec 2021