Sexual assault and consent

Sexual assault and consent

Your body, your choice

A factsheet about sexual assault and consent is available in a range of community languages. If you need an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450. An interpreter will contact the support service you request for free.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is a crime.

It is never okay for someone to use force or threats to get you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s your body. It’s your choice.

Help and support is available if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or harassed.

Sexual assault describes a range of crimes including:

  • rape, which is when you’re forced to have (vaginal, anal or oral) sex
  • unwanted touching
  • taking off a condom before or during sex without your permission
  • sexual coercion, which is when someone pressures or tricks you into doing sexual things you do not want to do
  • stalking
  • looking at you without your permission while you are intimate or naked
  • indecent exposure, which is when someone shows you private parts of their body
  • being forced to watch or participate in pornography, including someone taking a picture of you without your permission
  • sexting, which is sharing naked images of you without your consent or sending you naked images you don’t want.

What is sexual consent?

Freely given – Consenting is when you choose without pressure, manipulation or the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Enthusiastic – When it comes to sex, you should only agree to do the things you want to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.

Specific – Agreeing to one thing (like going to the bedroom) doesn’t mean you have agreed to do something else (like have sex).

Reversible – You can change your mind at any time during sex, even if you have done it before and even if you are both naked in bed.

Time bound – Giving consent at a particular time does not mean you have given consent for the same thing at any other time.

Silence is not consent – Many people experience a freeze response when they are very frightened. Just because you didn’t speak up, it doesn’t mean you gave consent.

Talk to someone you trust

Talking to someone you trust may help you decide what to do. Even if you decide not to report the sexual assault, there are many places you can get confidential support:

NSW Rape Crisis (available 24/7)

1800 424 017

Provides telephone and online crisis counselling for women and men in NSW who have experienced or are at risk of sexual assault and their non-offending supporters.

QLife (available 3pm to midnight 7 days a week)

1800 184 527

This is a specific service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people.

Provides telephone and web based support to people of all ages.

Get support

There are a range of services that can give you support. Anyone, including international students and visitors can receive help and support from these services.

Medical support

If you have been sexually assaulted, you can access free medical care at the emergency department of any public hospital. NSW Health’s specialist Sexual Assault Services are available for free (you don’t need a Medicare card) 24 hours a day.

These services provide free counselling, medical treatment and examinations for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. They can provide testing for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention. 

Medical evidence can help prove what happened. A sexual assault examination is best done in the first 24 hours. An examination that is performed up to 7 days after the assault can provide useful evidence that can be used in court, if the matter is taken further. 

Your nearest services: 

Sydney Sexual Assault Service (including young people 14 years +) 

Based at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Missenden Road, Camperdown.

02 9515 9040 (business hours)

02 9515 6111 (after hours and on weekends)

Child Protection Unit (children up to 16 years) 

Based at Sydney Children’s Hospital, High Street, Randwick.

02 9382 1412 (business hours)

02 9382 1111 (after hours on weekends)

Alternatively, you can choose to see your own doctor.

Reporting to the police

Sexual assault is a crime. Being a victim of a crime will not affect your visa or employment status.

A specially trained police officer will take a detailed statement about what happened. You can have a support person with you while you give your statement. Police can also arrange for a free interpreter.

Record the police officer’s name and the ‘event number’ to help you follow up your report.

If you decide not to formally report the assault to police, you can complete the Sexual Assault Reporting Option questionnaire. This lets you report to the police anonymously.

The Sexual Assault Reporting Option questionnaire is not the same as making a formal report to police and will not automatically result in a criminal investigation. If at any stage you wish to make a formal report, contact your local police station. The simple questionnaire includes a number of questions about what happened plus a section where you can provide a summary in your own words about what happened to you. You can report to police by calling triple zero (000) or attending a police station.

Legal support

To access support from Victims Services contact:

NSW Victims Services Access Line

1800 633 063

Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm


The information on this webpage is provided as a general guide only and is not intended to constitute advice and must not be use as a substitute for professional advice. The City of Sydney makes no warranty, representation or guarantee of any type as to the content, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any information on this webpage. If you find any information that you believe may be inaccurate, please contact

Last updated: Tuesday, 9 July 2019