Health and body - Young people

Young people under the age of 18 years of age have certain rights when it comes to their health and their body. 

This information will help you to understand what rights you have.  Find out:

  • When you are old enough to have sex.
  • When you can get a tattoo.
  • When you can get your body pierced.
  • What your options are if you are pregnant.
  • What to do if you have been injured because of a crime.

When am I old enough to have sex?

The age when someone can have sex is called the age of consent. This is the age at which a person can consent (agree) to sex. The age of consent in Western Australia is 16. 

If the other person is in a position of power, such as someone looking after you or a teacher, the age of consent is 18.

You are not allowed to have sex with a person under 16, even if they say they want to.  If someone does have sex with you before you turn 16, they can be charged with a criminal offence. 

When can I get a tattoo?

You have to be 18 to get a tattoo or a brand, unless you have the written consent of a parent. The consent has to refer to the part of your body where you get the tattoo.

If there is no written consent from your parent, the tattoo artist who gives you the tattoo or brand commits an offence. This applies to anyone, even if someone gives you a home-made tattoo or brand.

When can I get my body pierced?

If you are 16 or older, you can get your ears pierced without needing consent from a parent or guardian.

If you are under 18, it is unlawful to get certain 'intimate' parts of your body pierced.  For example, to put in a genital or nipple stud or ring, even if your parent consents. Other parts of your body can be pierced if you have the written consent of a parent or guardian.

Once you turn 18, you can decide for yourself.

What if I have been injured because of a crime?

You may be eligible for compensation for injury caused by, and/or loss from, an offence which occurred on or after 22 January 1971.

Can I see a doctor without my parents being there?

If you are under 18, a parent or legal guardian can make medical decisions for you, including decisions to have or not have treatment, and what treatment you should receive. 

In some circumstances, you may be able to make those decisions for yourself, without having to get consent from a parent. You will need to be able to show that you have the intelligence and maturity to understand the nature and effect of the medical decisions you make, and can make reasonable decisions for yourself. 

Whether or not you have the legal capacity to make your own medical decisions will depend on your age, understanding and maturity, as well as the proposed medical treatment itself (including its seriousness, possible side-effects or risks, and whether it could have permanent or irreversible consequences).

What are my options if I am pregnant?

You have options which can include:

  • going ahead with the pregnancy and keeping the baby
  • having the baby and adopting out, or
  • terminating the pregnancy (an abortion).

A counsellor, nurse or doctor can help you think through your choices. You can get more than one opinion. There is no minimum age for keeping your baby. You have to be able to care for yourself and the baby and keep the baby safe.

If you are under 16 years of age and still living at home or dependent on your parents, a parent or legal guardian must be informed that you are considering an abortion and they must participate in the counselling process between you and the doctor.  The final decision is yours.  

If you do not want to tell your parent or guardian, you can apply to the Children's Court in special circumstances for an order to go ahead with an abortion, without your parent's involvement.  


More information


Reviewed: 9 May 2018


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.