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Sex and Dating Culture in Australia

When we talk about the international student experience, it’s easy to focus on things like academics, visas and budgeting. Sure, these details are crucial to think about to ensure your educational success. But it’s equally important to discuss the things that affect your personal life and wellbeing. In this article, we’ll focus on two of these details in particular: sex and dating. 

From casual first dates to inclusive dating apps, Australia has a diverse sex and dating culture – and learning more about it is the best way to make informed and confident decisions. 

Dating in Australia

If you haven’t noticed already, Australians have an extremely laid-back approach to life. So, it should come as no surprise that they’re just as relaxed about sex and dating.

That’s right – dating in Australia is about as casual as everything else. For the most part, everyone is going with the flow and hoping for the best. Dates are typically very informal. A date could be something as simple as getting a coffee or going to the pub together. It’s also not unusual to date more than one person at once, especially when you’re first starting to get to know someone.

Australian dating culture is also very accepting and inclusive. So, if you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Because the dating scene is so progressive, there are no formal rules for who can approach whom. Male, female, non-binary – no matter how you identify, you’re more than welcome to make the first move. 

Dating apps

As a student, you might be on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are lots of free dating sites in Australia. 

Some of the most popular free dating apps in Australia are Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. But if you’re looking for something a little different, there are alternative apps that cater to many cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations. For example, Salaam Swipe helps Muslims meet other Muslims. There is also Her, which is a dating app geared towards lesbian, bisexual and queer women. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s an app for you. 

It’s important to be extremely cautious on dating apps. After all, most of the time, you don’t know the people you’re chatting with. Consult our guide on how to stay safe on dating apps for tips on protecting yourself.

First date ideas

In the dating world, first impressions matter. A first date could form your first impression of a new love interest. In many ways, first dates set the tone for what your relationship could look like. That’s why deciding what to do on a first date can be tough. Fortunately, Australia is full of fun and creative date options

If you and your date want to get out in nature, go for a coastal walk or a bushwalk. Want a more slow-paced, relaxed outdoor date? Go for a beach day or a picnic in the park. You can soak up the sun and enjoy each other’s company all at once.  

If you’re more interested in the arts, visit a museum together, or watch a film at the cinema. Or you can attend a paint and sip night, where you create your own masterpieces while sipping on your favourite drinks.

Attitudes to sex and sex education in Australia

In Australia, sex is not usually seen as a particularly taboo topic. For the most part, people are open to talking about sex with members of their inner social circle, such as close friends. It’s important to remember that people’s comfort levels with these topics can vary significantly. Always be respectful of people’s boundaries, regardless of what they are. 

When it comes to sex education, Australia is quite comprehensive. Most educational programs explore subjects like human development, puberty, and relationships. Some programs also touch on topics like gender, sexuality, and sexual decision-making.

Some organisations, like Sexual Health Victoria, even offer sexual education eLearning modules for free to international students enrolled in university, TAFE, or college.

Most tertiary education providers offer support resources on sexual health and education. Universities are also stepping up efforts to raise consent awareness, focusing on the importance of respecting personal boundaries. This initiative is essential for creating a safe and inclusive campus environment for all students. It’s important to note that consent laws in Australia might be different from what you’re used to. We strongly encourage you to familiarise yourself with the local laws and norms by reading our guide: Understanding Consent in Australia. Some other useful resources might include:

Be sure to visit your education provider’s website to find out more about its sex education services. 

Staying safe

Above all else, it’s important to prioritise your safety in your sex and dating adventures. There are plenty of steps you can take to properly protect yourself. 

Firstly, never go on a date with someone you don’t feel 100 per cent comfortable with. If something feels a bit off, or someone seems suspicious, trust your instincts. Only go on dates with people you trust.

Before going out, organise your belongings. You should have your ID, a fully charged phone, and enough cash to get a taxi home if you need to. You should also tell someone where you’re going, who you’ll be with, and how long you’ll be gone. If you’d like, you can text them during your date to let them know you’re okay.    

Protecting your sexual health is also an important part of staying safe. If you are going to be sexually intimate with someone, know your contraception options. Contraception will help you avoid things such as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. 

Not sure how to talk about sexual health with a new partner? Check out these tips, which can help you learn how to start a tricky conversation.