Harmonising Sexual Consent Law in Australia: Goals, Risks and Challenges

Guzyal Hill, Jonathan Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, sought to persuade ‘all governments across Australia to adopt the same definitions of consent, grooming, the age of a child, and sexual intercourse’. However, sexual consent law harmonisation in Australia faces formidable obstacles. We argue that an affirmative consent standard represents the appropriate goal of harmonisation, while potential risks include levelling-down reforms and undermining the role of competitive federalism. We identify four main obstacles to legal harmonisation, including strong advocacy coalitions, jurisdictional differences, historical failures and political disincentives. We conclude these obstacles do not mean harmonisation is undesirable or impossible, but it would require prolonged attention, resources and political will, as well as a nuanced understanding of the difficulties involved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalMonash University Law Review
Issue number3
Early online date19 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2024


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