Main content area

Laws applying to young people

Federal and common law

Area of law Age of transition - child to adult
Payment of Centrelink benefits eg Youth allowance Usually 15
Marriageable age

18 without parental consent
16-17 with consent

Informed consent to medical treatment (including receipt of contraception prescription and consent to lawful abortion) About 14
Voting 18
Suing and being sued (with an adult ‘next friend’ named additionally in the proceedings Any age
Suing and being sued independently 18
Parent’s legal authority to make decisions for a child 18
Being subject to parenting arrangements ordered under Family Law Act 18

To pay income tax (where income is over certain threshold)

No minimum age

NSW law

Area of law Age of transition - child to adult
The age of criminal responsibility (special provisions for aged 10-14) 15 and up
Remand or sentence in adult prison Possible from age 16
School attendance mandatory
From 2010, students aged 17 or under must be:
a. in school, or registered for home schooling OR
b. in approved education or training OR
c. in full-time, paid employment (average 25 hours/week) OR
d. in a combination of these.
Until age 17
Removal of child or young person from a family under care and protection legislation Until age 18
Employment Usually 15
Legal consent to have sexual intercourse 16
Change own name without parental consent 18
Possession or consumption of alcohol in a public place 18
Presence in a restricted area of licensed premises 18
Purchase of cigarettes 18
L plates 16
Provisional driver’s license 17
Being liable under fair, non-exploitative contract or lease entered into with informed consent Generally age 18 but younger, mature person may be bound
Purchase of contraception Any age