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Sexual health and consent

Sexual health is something we should all think about. Being sexually healthy is about having the information and support you need to explore sexuality and relationships in a healthy, respectful and safe way.

We have a diverse student community with people coming from a range of backgrounds and cultures. Everyone may have had very different experiences thinking and talking about sexuality. Although sexual health might not be something you’re familiar with discussing, it’s important to know how to stay sexually healthy and safe whether you’re in a relationship or not.

Sexual health not only includes protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections and understanding your contraception options; it’s also about caring for yourself in sexual relationships and feeling good about the decisions you make around sexual activity.

Above all, understanding consent and acceptable behaviour is essential before you engage in any sexual encounter.

You can find more information and resources about healthy relationships on our health and wellbeing page. 

What is consent?

Consent means freely agreeing to do something, or providing permission for something to happen. It has to be by choice, where someone has the freedom and ability to do so.

Whenever you participate in any sexual activity, everyone involved needs to give their full consent.

This means that everyone is entirely comfortable with the situation and freely able to agree, give permission or say ‘yes’ to participating in a sexual activity (this includes kissing and touching).

Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault and is always a crime.

Consent needs to be able to be communicated openly and clearly, every step of the way and should never be assumed. It needs to be given for each and every sexual activity, every time, with every person. It should never be assumed based on past sexual activity and can be taken away at any time. Everyone has the right to change their mind, and if this happens, you no longer have consent and should stop.

Consent is never ambiguous. If someone is not able to offer an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to questions about sexual activity you do not have consent.

Consent is verbal and physical. Body language may indicate that a person is not certain about the sexual activity. If someone indicates in a non-verbal way that they are unsure, for example they pull away, cover their body or eyes, push you away, you do not have consent and you should stop and talk to them. If you are unsure, then you do not have consent.

Clear communication is important. You need to listen to what the other person is saying and how they are behaving. If you aren’t sure or are getting mixed messages, you should stop and ask for clarification.

Sexual consent cannot be given by someone who is under the age of 16, forced or coerced, intoxicated, affected by drugs, asleep, unconscious, incapable of saying no or unable to understand what they are consenting to. Engaging in sexual activity with a person in any of these states is sexual assault.

Find out more about consent on

Consent matters: online consent education module

The University provides Epigeum’s Consent Matters online education module for all students to complete. Developed by a collaboration of academics based in the UK and Australia, the online consent module is designed to help you understand sexual consent. Through interactive activities and scenarios, you will be stepped through:

  • what consent is, how to identify when it has been given, and situations where it can’t be given
  • the importance of good communication, identifying boundaries and talking about them
  • how to identify situations where someone may need help and how you can intervene.

Completing the module

All commencing students will need to complete the module and will be automatically enrolled.

If you started your studies before 2018, you can enrol in the module through Canvas.

  1. Access the Consent Matters module in Canvas (log in using your Unikey and password).

  2. Select 'Join this course', then 'Enrol in course'.

  3. Select 'Go to the course' to get started.

Once enrolled, the course will appear on your Canvas dashboard until you've completed it.

The module takes about an hour to complete, but you don’t have to do it all in one go. You can log in at any time and pick up where you left off.

Once you've successfully completed the module, it will appear in the 'Courses' section of Canvas.

If you are affected by any of the topics discussed in the module or experience any distress as a result, you do not need to continue completing it. You can access support through a number of services.


Sexuality is about the feeling and attractions we have towards others and understanding it can play an important role in caring for our sexual health. Sexuality is diverse and can be different for everyone. It might also be confusing and something that can take a while to fully understand.

If you are questioning or experiencing difficulty with your sexuality there are services both on campus and in the community that provide non-judgmental and confidential support. This includes LGBTIQ support and counselling.

Sexual health services

If you’re having sex it’s important to know the facts about sexually transmissible infections (STIs), contraception and how to stay safe.

You can visit your general practitioner (GP) or find your closest sexual health service on the NSW Government’s Health website.

The University Health Service on the Darlington campus is available to provide confidential and non-judgemental advice and sexual health information.

Services include:

  • contraception information and advice
  • sexual health checks and treatment
  • women’s health including gynaecological & breast examinations, pap smears, pregnancy, ante-natal care, advice on terminations.

Additional resources

  • Reachout – practical support and advice around sexual assault and harassment, relationships and consent. 
  • Loveisrespect – information and resources to help you understand sex and healthy relationships, consent, and how to recognise abuse.
  • Family planning NSW – a not-for-profit organisation providing reproductive and sexual health services and resources including information and factsheets on contraception and STIs.
  • NSW Sexual Health Infolink – anonymous advice on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexual health from health professionals, 9am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, Sydney local time.
  • Play Safe -  a one-stop shop for young people wanting to know about safe sex, getting tested and sexually Transmissible Infections (STI’s).
  • ACON – an LGBTI health promotion organisation focusing on LGBTI sexual health, HIV prevention and HIV support.
  • Understanding HPV - information available in English and Chinese to help you understand the types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), its effects and how it can be prevented.
  • National Cervical Screening Program - information on the cervical screening test, HPV and cervical cancer.

Sexual health information in other languages

You can find fact sheets about reproductive and sexual health, contraception, menstruation and STIs, in a wide range of languages on the Family Planning NSW website.

Multicultural Health Communication Service also has health resources in other languages, including information on STIs.

Student Centre



1800 SYD UNI (1800 793 864)
or +61 2 8627 1444 (outside Australia)

Find out more about how we can help

Last updated: 25 October 2021

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