What is consent?

Consent is an important part of all healthy relationships in your life. Find out more about consent, why it matters, and practical tips on ways to give and get consent.  

When we say all relationships, we really do mean all – consent matters between all people including with your friends, family, course mates, house mates, lecturers, a sexual partner, or someone else. Put simply, consent means that everyone involved is giving permission for something to happen and feels comfortable with whatever is happening.  

Consent is all about setting boundaries with the people in your life, respecting their boundaries, and checking in with each other regularly if things aren’t clear. For example, asking if it’s okay to give someone a hug, asking if you can share something that’s upsetting you, and asking if it’s okay to kiss someone before you do are all examples of getting consent.  

Consent is as easy as FRIES 

Without consent, any kind of sexual activity is sexual assault or rape. A simple way to remember what’s required for sexual consent is to use the FRIES acronym.

F - Freely given

Consent should always be given freely without fear, pressure, coercion or manipulation. It can’t be given by someone who’s incapacitated, like if they’re drunk or high.


You meet someone on a night out and you really like them, but you’re not ready for things to progress physically yet. They keep asking you repeatedly, and you like them so much that you eventually say yes to make them happy. In this scenario, because you’re pressured, consent is not freely given.

R - Reversible

Consent can always be revoked – you're allowed to change your mind at any time about what you’re okay with.


You’re getting physical with your partner, and even though you’ve had sex together before, for some reason you’re just not feeling it right now. You tell your partner you’re not into it and say you want to stop. In this scenario, you gave consent and then revoked it.

I – Informed

You can only consent to something if you know all the details of what you’re agreeing to before, during, and after.   


A sexual partner says they’ll use a condom. Partway through, they take it off without you knowing because they say it feels better. In this scenario, you didn’t agree to have sex without a condom so consent was not informed.   

E – Enthusiastic 

When it comes to sex, you should only ever do things that you really want to do. Consent means the presence of a ‘yes’ – whether it’s verbal or non-verbal – rather than the absence of a ‘no’. Nobody should feel pressured, uncertain, or hesitant.   


You’re trying something new with your partner. They seemed a little hesitant at first and you aren’t sure if they’re having a good time, but they haven’t said they don’t like it, so you keep going. In this scenario, you don’t have full consent because you don’t have any verbal or non-verbal cues that your partner is enthusiastic. If you’re not sure your partner likes what you’re doing, you should always check in with them to make sure they’re comfortable.

S – Specific

Giving consent to do one thing doesn’t mean that you’re okay with doing anything else. Never assume someone is okay with doing something if you haven’t asked first.   


You agree to go to someone’s bedroom to make out. They start taking their clothes off and touching you. In this scenario, your partner doesn’t have your full consent. They should have checked in with you to make sure you were okay with doing more than kissing without making assumptions about what you would be okay with.  


How to give, get, and revoke consent

Giving consent and getting consent from someone else doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or awkward. Talking to your partner about your boundaries and how to respect theirs means you can both feel safe and respected.

Ways to get consent

Some phrases you can use to ask for consent from your partner and understand their boundaries before trying something include:   

  • Is it okay if I ____?   

  • Do you want me to ____?   

  • What turns you on?   

  • Can we try ____?  

  • Can I ___?   

  • How do you feel about ____?  

  • What do you want to do?   

  • How far do you want to go?   

It’s important to keep checking in with your partner to make sure they’re comfortable with what you’re doing. Some phrases you can use to check you still have consent during something include:   

  • Is this okay?   

  • Should I keep going?   

  • Do you like that?   

  • Does that feel good?   

  • Do you want me to stop?   

  • Are you sure you’re okay with this?   

You should also pay attention to your partner’s actions to make sure they’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing. Some non-verbal cues you can watch for include your partner:   

  • Moaning or making pleasurable sounds  

  • Making facial expressions that show they’re enjoying themselves   

  • Participating as much as you are like touching you and kissing you   

  • Saying they like

Ways to give consent

Being able to set clear boundaries with your partner means they’ll know what you’re comfortable with and what you like. Some phrases you can use to give verbal consent include:   

  • That sounds great   

  • That feels amazing   

  • Let’s do that more   

  • I’d like to try ____  

  • It feels good when you ____  

  • Yes   

There are also lots of ways you can give non-verbal consent too. Some non-verbal cues that can show your partner you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing include:   

  • Nodding your head  

  • Making direct eye contact  

  • Touching them   

  • Pulling them closer   

  • Initiating sexual activity that you’ve agreed to   

  • Laughing or smiling

Ways to revoke consent

Whether you decide you’re not comfortable with an act from the start and want to set clear boundaries, or you decide during something that you’re not feeling it, it's also important to know how to say ‘no’ to a partner. Some phrases you can use to say ‘no’ or revoke consent include:   

  • No  

  • Stop  

  • I’m not really feeling this right now  

  • That doesn’t feel good for me  

  • I’m not comfortable with ____  

  • Can we ____ instead?