Rachael Burgin



Rachael is a doctoral candidate and teaching associate in Criminology at Monash University. She has presented her research at international and national conferences, including the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology conference and the British Society of Criminology conference. Her doctoral research explores the role of sexual consent in rape cases in Victoria.

Research Topic

‘Yes Means Yes’: An Analysis of Legal Constructions of Sexual Consent in Victoria


The communicative model of consent is premised on the notion that consent should be expressed through actions and/or words and thus is an ongoing process, given in specific circumstances, which can be revoked at any time. This model, implied in the current law governing sexual assault in Victoria and evident in both socially and legally constructed behavioural standards across a range of jurisdictions, stands in stark contrast to historical understandings of consent based on narratives of ‘no means no’, and the assumption that consent is essentially presumed, unless and until it is taken away.

The model of communicative consent has been contentiously heralded as a legal advancement of women’s sexual autonomy, however reporting rates for sexual assault remain low, and convictions difficult to obtain. Rachael’s research traces the ways in which this model of consent has been conceptualised and then translated in practice in legal and social policy. Drawing from a selection of Victorian rape trial transcripts, her research examines how this standard of consent has been interpreted by legal actors in the courtroom, and the consequences of this on the key parties to the rape, namely the victim and accused.


Dr Asher Flynn
Professor Jude McCulloch
Dr Danielle Tyson

Research Interests

Sexual violence, sexual consent, law reform, access to justice.

Personal websites

Twitter: @rachael_burgin