The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. TheĀ information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. De facto relationships (YA & DSP)

Duration of relationship

A young person who has been in a de facto relationship may be considered independent for YA purposes (and for DSP purposes where the person is aged under 21 and does not have a dependent child). The meaning of de facto relationship in the context of young people and YA (and independence for DSP) is slightly different to the general meaning. ABSTUDY also uses separate definitions for couple relationships for independence (see ABSTUDY Policy Manual).

The de facto relationship must have continued for a duration of 12 months, except in special circumstances where 6 months duration is accepted. In determining the duration, the following factors must be considered:

  • any periods where the young person or their partner were under the age of consent in the state where they were residing
  • the continuity of the relationship, and
  • the general factors considered when determining whether a person is a member of a couple (1.1.M.120 and 1.1.M.130).

Age of consent

The calculation of the duration of the relationship excludes any periods where the young person or their partner were under the age of consent in the state where they were residing.

Example: A 16-year old person lived in Queensland for 6 months with their partner, then they moved to Tasmania for 4 months (still aged 16) before moving back to Queensland. The period in Tasmania will not count toward the duration of the relationship as the age of consent in Tasmania is 17. The relationship would be considered continuous however, and the previous period in Queensland would be counted.

The following table lists the age of consent in all states and territories, including the higher age that applies in some states where a person is in a position of authority over the other person.

Example: Their guardian or school teacher.

State Age of consent Higher age of consent
NSW 16 years 18 years
Qld 16 years Does not apply
Vic 16 years 18 years
WA 16 years 18 years
ACT 16 years 18 years
SA 17 years 18 years
Tas 17 years Does not apply
NT 16 years 18 years

In situations where the de facto relationship commenced while living outside Australia, the age of consent should be taken as the age that applied in the state or territory where the young person first lived on return to, or arrival in, Australia.

Continuity of relationship

Temporary separations or break-ups will interrupt the continuity of a de facto relationship, except where the young person can prove the continuous nature of the relationship during such periods.

Example: One partner has to move away for a short period due to work, education requirements or family issues.

Act reference: SSAct section 4(3) Member of a coupleā€”criteria for forming opinion about relationship, section 1067C Member of a YA couple

Last reviewed: