The Magistrates Court is known as the Childrens Court when it is exercising jurisdiction under Chapter 4A of the Magistrates Court Act 1930.
The Childrens Court has jurisdiction to hear criminal cases against children (people under 12 years of age) and young people (people 12 years and above who have not turned 18 years of age) and applications and other proceedings under the Children and Young People Act 2008 in relation to children and young people.
The Childrens Court is located in the Magistrates Court Building at Knowles Place. Access to the Childrens Court is through a separate entrance to the left of the main entrance as you face the building.
The Childrens Court generally sits in courtroom 6 on level 2 of the Magistrates Court Building which is accessed via the Childrens Court entrance. The Court hears Care and Protection Order matters in Hearing Room 1, situated on level 1.
When are matters dealt with in the Childrens Court
The age of the child or young person when the proceedings are commenced determines whether the Childrens Court has jurisdiction.
In criminal matters, the young person’s age at the time of the alleged offence will determine whether the Childrens Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter. Where a person is under 18 at the time of committing the offence and first appears in Court aged between 18 years and 18 years and 6 months, the Childrens Court deals with the matter until the Court finds the person guilty of the offence. If the Court finds the person guilty, the Court sentences them as an adult. If the person is over the age of 18 years and 6 months when they first appear before the Court, the Magistrates Court hears the matter.
In criminal proceedings or proceedings for care and protection orders, a lawyer or litigation representative may represent a child or young person.
A person may only be a litigation representative for a child or young person with the leave of the Childrens Court.
The Childrens Court may only hear a matter dealing with a young offender, an application for a care or protection order or a transfer of a protection order to or from another jurisdiction if:
- a lawyer represents the child or young person involved, or
- the Court is satisfied that the child or young person has had a reasonable opportunity to get legal representation and the child’s or young person’s best interests will be adequately represented in the proceeding.
Procedures in the Childrens Court
The Magistrates Court Act 1930 and the Court Procedures Act 2004 govern procedures in the Childrens Court.
Parents required to attend court
Parents of a child or young person subject to proceedings in the Children's Court are required to attend Court throughout the proceedings. The Childrens Court may issue a warrant to bring a parent, who has been served with notice of the proceeding against their child, to Court if neither parent attends Court when their child is before the Court.
Proceedings not open to the public
Childrens Court proceedings are not open to the public.
In the courtroom
You must turn off all mobiles phones and other electronic devices before entering the courtroom.
The magistrate is referred to as ‘Your Honour’.
You should not make any unnecessary noise while in the courtroom.
Child’s identity not to be disclosed
It is an offence to publish an account or report of proceedings in the Childrens Court if the account or report discloses the identity of the child, young person or a family member or allows the child’s, young person’s or a family member’s identity to be worked out. The offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of up to 300 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment or both. One penalty unit equals $140.
The Childrens Court has jurisdiction for care and protection orders under the Children and Young People Act 2008. The Court also has jurisdiction under the Children and Young People Act 2008 in relation to the transfer of matters interstate and receives matters from interstate relating to the care and protection of children and young people. The Court may also make orders relating to parental responsibility.
Contacting the Childrens Court
You can contact the Childrens Court Registry on (02) 6207 1746. Registry hours are 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
A duty solicitor is available to assist in Childrens Court matters.