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The age of consent: an update

The age of consent: an update

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 21/1997 by Rachel Simpson
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In October 1997 the Research Service published Briefing Paper No 21/97, The Age of Consent. The age of consent refers to the age below which a young person is deemed incapable of giving informed consent to sexual intercourse - the age below which consent is irrelevant to sexual offences against children. The paper discussed the rationale for an age of consent, the operation of the age of consent in Australia and particularly NSW and looked comparatively at the age of consent overseas. The paper examined options for reform of age of consent laws and arguments for and against a uniform age of consent of 16 years. At the time the original paper was published the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (the Committee) had released a discussion paper on Chapter Five of the Model Criminal Code - sexual offences against the person. In May 1999 the Report on Chapter Five was published. The purpose of this update is to examine the recommendations contained in that Report and how they might apply to NSW. Since the Briefing Paper was published, a number of amendments have been introduced into the United Kingdom Parliament to lower the homosexual age of consent in that country from 18 to 16. This update also examines the content and progress of those proposals.

Also see the original 1997 Briefing Paper: The Age of Consent