Communities and Justice

Legal matters for teens

Vulnerable teenagers may need support, advice and advocacy when facing legal issues or court matters.

Caseworkers need to consider access to legal advice, coordinate with Justice and be familiar with the Memorandum of Understanding between DCJ and Youth Justice (PDF, 544.6 KB).

Knowing their rights and obligations when entering adulthood can help young people understand what they are entitled to, how they can contribute to society and what laws make them safe. These include:

  • the right to vote
  • accessing personal records
  • applying for a passport, licence or changing their name.

It is important to begin conversations with young people before they turn 18 about staying safe and how risky behaviours can have serious consequences. For example, get talking about social media, consent in relationships, responsible drinking and the risks of drink-driving, the negative impacts of drugs, the health impacts of smoking and why safe relationships are important.

Once they turn 18, they will have the same legal rights as any adult. They will be able to do things they weren’t able to legally do under the age of 18. This will include things like voting, being held responsible for their actions or agreement when entering into legally binding contracts such as tenancy, buying cigarettes and alcohol or entering a public bar, getting married without anyone’s permission, and making a valid will.

It’s also important to support young people when accessing records about their time in care. Accessing records may be distressing so it’s important for caseworkers to consider ways to support this.

Victims of Crime support

Caseworkers have a responsibility to support victims of crime access the support they need to help with recovery, healing and possible compensation. See the Victims of crime in out-of-home care factsheet (PDF, 452.0 KB) outlining the OOHC caseworker’s role, or for further details see Victims of violent crimes.

A referral for a legal audit should be made for the young person when they turn 15 years of age (or as soon as possible if older than 15) to allow sufficient time for the audit prior to them leaving care at age 18. This will help assess their eligibility for NSW Victims Services such as counselling or financial compensation, and support any other legal matters not yet addressed. DCJ caseworkers use the DCJ legal audit referral form (PDF, 276.6 KB) and non-government agencies use the NGO legal audit referral form. (PDF, 307.4 KB)

In circumstances where Victims Services approve financial compensation for the young person, the fee waiver request letter (DOC, 47.5 KB) can be sent to NSW Trustee and Guardian asking to waive any fees related to their management of funds.

Law help

Passport and birth certificate

Rights and responsibilities

Last updated:

23 Feb 2023