Sex and Relationships
It is a crime for any person to have sexual intercourse with a person under 17 years of age. Consent is a defence in the following circumstances:
- where the person is 15 years or older, the accused person is not more than five years older; or
- where the person is 12 years or older, the accused person is not more than three years older.
Considering that there is a great deal of police and prosecution discretion in prosecuting a charge of sexual intercourse with a young person, the activities of teenagers amongst themselves are unlikely to come to the attention of the courts. It is where adults engage in sexual relations with children that most issues occur. There is also a defence if the accused person believed on reasonable grounds that the other person was 17 years or older (s124, Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas)). It is a crime for a parent to have sexual intercourse with, or sexually assault, their child, and for siblings to engage in sexual relations (s133, Criminal Code Act).
The marriageable age for females and males is 18 years. Between the ages of 16 years and 18 years young people need the consent of their parents/guardians or the authorisation of a magistrate or judge in a state court to marry. The court needs to be satisfied that the circumstances are ‘so exceptional and unusual as to justify the making of the order’ (ss11, 12 and 13, Marriage Act 1961 (Cth)). The court may dispense with the parents’ consent in certain cases. The young person must produce a certificate showing that the young person has received marriage counselling.