The annual pilgrimage to schoolies for tens of thousands of high school graduates can throw up some tricky questions … about sex.
The migration of teenagers to different states creates murky legal dilemmas, particularly around the issue of consent.
In Queensland, a popular destination for schoolies celebrations, the age of consent for sodomy is 18, compared to 16 in Victoria and other states.
Lawyers from Victoria Legal Aid have warned thousands of students that the age of consent differs across Australia.
VLA Program Manager Youth Crime Laura Chipp says it is vital that students know the age of their partner.
“I want to give students this information in a safe environment in school rather than see them walk through court doors and have us representing them for sexual and other offences,” she says.
It is, she said, unwise to assume everyone at schoolies is 17 or 18.
The alcohol-infused end -of-school-year celebrations attract toolies (older revellers who graduated from school many years ago), as well as “foolies” or “pre-schoolies” (younger students who pretend it is their final year of school).
“The law says that you have to make reasonable inquiries to determine their age,” Ms Chipps says.
This is important throughout school, not just at schoolies.
The age of consent is 16 in every jurisdiction, except South Australia and Tasmania, where it is 17. Queensland is the only state that has an older age of consent for sodomy, at 18 years, which is perceived to target gay people.
In Victoria, it is against the law for any person to have sex with someone under the age of 12. The “24 month rule” applies to those aged between 12 and 15, which means sexual penetration with anyone more than two years older or younger is a serious criminal offence.
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