Teenagers and the law: what’s the legal age?

As your child grows up and becomes more independent, you might be wondering how old he needs to be before he can do things like open a bank account, join a political party, get a tattoo, see a doctor alone or consent to medical treatment, learn to drive, get a part-time job or be left at home alone.

Some of these issues are covered by law, and the laws vary from state to state.

Laws limit what children and teenagers can do, but laws also give children rights. When children turn 18, they have the same legal rights as an adult. Before then, they also have rights that can be enforced.


This website provides information about child laws throughout Australia. It’s run by the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre and covers common legal questions that you or your child might have.

National Association of Community Legal Centres
This website has a directory to help you find your nearest Community Legal Centre (CLC). These are  community-based organisations that provide free legal advice and  information, especially for  disadvantaged people or people with special needs.

National Children’s and Youth Law Centre
This is a free, independent community legal centre for children and young people. It has a special focus on people most disadvantaged under the law.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
This website provides information on the Convention, which spells out the basic human rights that all children have. These are the rights to survive, to develop to the fullest, to be protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

The Convention protects children’s rights by setting standards in health care, education, and legal, civil and social services.

What’s Up Croc?
This website covers Australia’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Australian Capital Territory

Youth Law Centre ACT
This is a legal service for young people in the Australian Capital Territory. It provides free and confidential legal advice in person, over the phone – (02) 6173 5410 – or by email.

New South Wales

Legal Aid NSW – Best for Kids
This is a community legal education website. It has information about children and the law in New South Wales, as well as links to other services.

Legal Aid NSW – Children’s Legal Service
The Children’s Legal Service gives advice and information to young people involved with the law. You can get face-to-face advice at locations throughout New South Wales, or call the Youth Hotline, 9 am-midnight, 7 days – phone 1800 101 810.

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Legal Aid – At what age can I?
This information covers what’s legal when for young people in the Northern Territory.


Youth Advocacy Centre
The Youth Advocacy Centre website has lots of useful information about laws affecting young people in Queensland. You can also get legal advice over the phone – (07) 3356 1002.

South Australia

Legal Services Commission of South Australia
The information on this webpage covers children and the law in South Australia.


Legal Aid Commission Tasmania – Law for under 18’s fact sheet
The information on this webpage covers the law for young people aged under 18 years in Tasmania.


Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid helps people with legal problems. The website has answers to common legal questions in Victoria and a range of resources you can download including the booklet, Am I old enough? Common legal issues for young people.

This is a specialist community legal centre for young people in Victoria. It provides free and confidential legal advice.

Youth Central
This webpage covers rights for young people in Victoria.

Western Australia

Youth Legal Service
This organisation provides legal services for young people in Western Australia.