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Sexual Assault

In 2010, the police reported 17,757 cases of sexual assault, of which 25% involved children aged 10 to 14 years. Female victims aged 15–19 have the highest sexual assault rate of any age group. 

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual behaviour without your consent that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. It includes rape, incest and unwanted kissing or touching. It includes behaviour that does not involve actual touching. For example, forcing someone to watch pornography or masturbation is also sexual assault. Or if the other person is your family member, teacher, or someone else you know this will also be sexual assault.

Sexual assault is against the law and is a serious crime.

What is consent?

Consent means agreeing to have sex voluntarily and with a clear mind. You cannot consent to any sexual behaviour if you are under the age of 16. Likewise, there is no consent if you have a serious mental or intellectual disability that affects your ability to understand what is happening. 

What can you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

If you are in immediate danger, we recommended you call 000.

If you have been sexually assaulted, you have the right to be protected and you should report it to the police.

We also recommend that if you have been sexually assaulted you get medical care. A doctor can test and treat you for any sexually transmitted infections, carry out a forensic examination (if you were assaulted very recently and you wish to report the crime to the police) and provide information on sexual assault and follow-up services.

You should not feel ashamed because you have been sexually assaulted. ‘Sexual abuse is an abuse of power and a betrayal of trust’ and ‘the abuser is 100% responsible for their behaviour’. You should talk to someone you trust like a parent, a family member, a trusted friend or a school counsellor. Or call the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 (this is a 24 hour service). They offer a very supportive service and they keep everything confidential. You can also email them at: or use their online chat service for people aged 5-25 at:

If you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know there are a number of Sexual Assault Victims Services that can provide you with help. These include:

  • Child Wise: Provides immediate information, support, counselling and advice relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • National Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Helpline: talk with experienced counsellors;
  • Phone: 1800 200 526


Last reviewed 25 July 2011.