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In relation to sexual abuse charges in each state and territory, the key difference between child sexual assault and adult sexual assault is that adult sexual assault is based on the absence of sexual consent, whereas in child sexual assault, the issue of consent is superseded by age of consent laws (Eade, 2003).An important distinction should be made between "willingness" and "consent".

Reflecting on these three factors can help to clarify when behaviour is abusive.

According to Ryan (1997), the key elements of consent include: Equality relates to the balance of power and control in the relationship.

Sexual interaction that is harmful and abusive between two young people under the legal age can be difficult to identify and determine.

In situations where there is a clear age difference - for example a teenager and a young child - any sexual interaction is sexual abuse, as there is a definite power imbalance.

The age of consent is 16 years of age in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

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