Young people are often unaware of their legal rights, and can feel powerless to enforce them. They therefore can be vulnerable to having their legal rights neglected or abused. Additionally, the legal system is complicated and often confusing to navigate.

Workers have a responsibility to ensure young people’s legal rights are respected and protected. Although workers may not have specific legal expertise, workers still have the responsibility to inform and empower young people, and can do this by educating them about their rights and assisting them to exercise these rights when appropriate.

Age Restrictions that apply to Children and Young People undertaking Certain Activities. 

The following list is intended to be a general guide only. If you or a young person have questions it’s important to get advice about the particular situation.

At the following age, young people can:

Any age:

  • Make a complaint
  • Get legal advice
  • Open a bank account
  • Talk to a counsellor
  • Get a tattoo (with parent’s written permission)
  • Buy condoms (they are free from most family planning clinics)
  • Visit a GP or Sexual Heath and Family Planning ACT with a parent or carer

10 years old:

  • Be charged with a crime. The law presumes that a child aged 10 but not yet 14 cannot be convicted of an offence unless there is proof that the child understood what they did or did not do was wrong.

14 years old:

  • See a doctor or visit Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT or another service without a parent or carer

 15 years old:

  • Get a Medicare card
  • Get a job
  •  Apply for a Centrelink payment

16 years old:

  • Have sex (as long as both people consent) Get a prescription for contraceptives (eg. birth control pill)
  • Apply to Housing ACT for a place to live
  • Apply for Youth Allowance at Centrelink
  • Get married (with your parents’ and/or the court’s permission)
  • Apply for an ACT Learner’s licence (L-plate) to drive a car
  • Consent to a medical procedure without parental permission

17 years old:

  • Leave School
  • Apply for an ACT Provisional driver’s licence

18 years old:

  • Change your name without your parent’s consent
  • Get a tattoo without your parents’ or guardians’ permission
  • Buy alcohol, tobacco and cigarettes
  • Get married
  • Vote in elections and stand for Parliament
    Sign contracts
  • Go into a licensed venue (pub, club etc)
  • Make a will
  • Enter a casino or gamble
  • Be sent to an adult prison

The information is taken from ‘When Can I’, a legal information handbook for young people, most recently published by Legal Aid Office ACT in 2009. To obtain copies contact Legal Aid ACT.

Phone: (02) 6243 3419

Email[email protected]

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