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Sex and relationships

Any person 17 years or older can have sexual relations with another person aged 17 years or more, if they each consent. This can be a person of the same or the opposite sex [Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 57]. It is against the law for a person in a position of authority (for example, a teacher) to have sex, or to try to have sex with a person under 18 years [Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 49 see the handbook on Sexual Offences]. 'Sexting' images of people who appear to be 18 or under is illegal. Please see the chapter, Criminal and Traffic Offences, 'Sexting' and the production and dissemination of child pornography for more information.

For information about de facto relationships and marriage please see the chapter, Family Relationships.


Advice on contraception can be obtained from a medical practitioner or other health services. There is no legal requirement for a parent to consent for a child to receive contraceptive medical advice or treatment, but in the case of a child aged under 16 years, a second medical opinion may be necessary. Please see the chapter, Medical Treatment and Related Issues, Children under 16 years, for more information.


In South Australia the law on abortion it is covered under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 82A(1). A woman (of any age) who has resided in South Australia for at least two months may have an abortion, at certain hospitals, by a medical practitioner who agrees with another medical practitioner with one of the following assessments:

  • the pregnancy continuing involves greater risk to the pregnant woman's life, or greater risk of injury to her physical or mental health, than terminating the pregnancy, or
  • there is a substantial risk if the pregnancy is not terminated that the child will be seriously handicapped from physical or mental abnormalities.

Where a child is unable to consent to abortion or sterilisation (for example, due to an intellectual disability) only the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) can give consent, not the child's parents, but they are given an opportunity to make submissions to the Tribunal [Guardianship and Administration Act 1993 (SA) s 61]. However, in the case of P. v P.(1994) 181 CLR 583, the High Court held that where a child's parents have been married, the Family Court has the power to make an order approving sterilisation, notwithstanding a decision to the contrary by the Tribunal.

Please see further our Sex and Consent factsheet.

Children and the law  :  Last Revised: Mon Nov 12th 2018
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.