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Rights for young people

 

What are my privacy rights eg, online, at work?

What if I am being bullied?

When can I get a mobile phone?

When can I leave home?

When can I leave school?   

When am I old enough to have sex?

When can I open a bank or credit union account?

When can I get social security payments?

When can I start paid work?

Where can I find out information about my rights at work?

What if I think I have been discriminated against?

When can I get my own passport?

How do I change my name?

When can I get a tattoo?

When can I get my body pierced?

What are my options if I am pregnant?

What if I am in the care of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and have a problem or complaint?

What if I have been injured as the result of a crime?

When can I vote?

When can I make a will?

What are my privacy rights eg, online, at work?

Your rights are different depending on the situation.

If you have queries about your privacy rights in relation to social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, or Bebo, your mobile phone, ID scanning, at work, online banking, or in other areas you may find information on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website useful.  See also Things people say and Social media - be careful what you say or send!

What if I am being bullied?

If you are being bullied at school, or online by someone at school, you should tell your parents and your teacher or a school counsellor or the school principal.  If the bullying is in a form that is against the law, eg being hit, you should report it to the police.

If you are being bullied at work raise it with your contact or grievance officer, safety and health representative, human resource officer or union representative if you are in a union. There may be formal procedures you need to follow.

Some bullying at work, eg assaults or threats to assault, may be a police matter. Some bullying behaviours may be unlawful under other legislation, eg the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) covers sexual and racial harassment or discrimination. You may need to lodge a claim. See Discrimination for more information.

The ThinkUKnow and Cybersmart websites have information you may find useful about internet safety and stopping cyber bullying.

For more information see Cyberbullying. If you have an Android mobile phone or tablet you can download a free app Below the Belt: Sex, Selfies and Cyberbullying for free legal information for young people about sex and consent, sending sexy pics (sexting) and cyberbullying.

When can I get a mobile phone?

You have to be 18 to sign a mobile phone contract. Your parents may sign the contract for you. If they do they have to pay if you can't. You can get a pre-paid phone at any age.

For information and tips on buying a mobile phone including on choosing a mobile phone, and deciding on a pre-paid plan or a contract go the MoneySmart website.

If you are having problems with your phone see Consumers under the heading What if I have a problem with my mobile phone?

When can I leave home?

There is no law that says when a young person can leave home. Generally a young person will not be forced to go home if they have a safe place to go, have enough money to live on, are mentally healthy, are not in danger and have not committed nor are likely to commit any crimes eg drug related or prostitution.

If you want to leave home without your parents' agreement you should talk it over with a school counsellor, a youth worker or an adult you trust, eg a family friend or a relative.

If your parent or guardian does not know where you are they may make a "missing persons" report to the police. They may also let the Department for Child Protection and Family Support ("CPFS") know if they are concerned about your wellbeing. CPFS can take your case to the Children's Court if it is worried about your welfare.

When can I leave school?   

You have to stay in school or training or work (or in an approved combination of these options) until the end of the year in which you turn 17 or you get the Western Australian Certificate of Education. For more information on your options visit the Department of Education website. If you need help with deciding which option is best for you you can talk to your school or a Participation Coordinator at your regional education office.

When am I old enough to have sex?

The age when someone can have sex is called “the age of consent”. This is the age at which a person can consent to sex. The age of consent in Western Australia is 16, except where the older person is in a position of power, such as someone looking after you or a teacher, in which case the age of consent is 18. You are not allowed to have sex with a person under 16 even if they consent. If someone does have sex with you before you turn 16 they can be charged with a criminal offence.

You should think about these laws when deciding whether to have sex with someone under 16 as you may be charged with a criminal offence and if convicted your details go on a child sex offender register. In certain circumstances, those details can be made publicly available. You can be placed on the register even if you are under 18.

For more information see Sex and consent.

When can I open a bank or credit union account?

You can open a bank or credit union account at any age. Ask the bank or credit union what kind of ID they need. You need more than one form of identification, such as your birth certificate and photo ID. If you have a tax file number, tell the bank or credit union. If you don’t give the bank or credit union your tax file number you may be taxed at a higher rate.

When can I get social security payments?

You may be eligible for Youth Allowance which can assist you if you are a young person who is studying, undertaking training or an Australian Apprenticeship, looking for work, or sick. Details about eligibility can be found on the Centrelink website.

You may be eligible for Abstudy if you are an Indigenous secondary or tertiary student or a full-time Australian apprentice. Details about eligibility can be found on the Centrelink website.

When can I start paid work?

You can only work in some jobs with restricted hours before you turn 15 years of age. For more information go to the Department of Commerce website under the heading Labour Relations/Services/Work4Youth.

Where can I find out information about my rights at work?

See Employment pay and conditions especially under the heading Are there special rules for young workers?.

What if I think I have been discriminated against?

Get legal advice. See Discrimination.

When can I get my own passport?

You can apply for a passport at any age. An application form is available from any post office.

Usually a young person under 18 needs both parents to give their consent and sign the application for a passport. In exceptional circumstances the need for the parents' consent can be waived


You can apply for a passport before you turn 18 if your parents or guardian agree. If your parents or guardian can’t or won’t agree, there are steps you can take to get a passport. For more information contact the Australian Passport Information Service (at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) on 131 232.

You don’t need your parents’ or guardian’s consent to get a passport if you are married.

How do I change my name?

If you are under 18 see Changing a child's name. If you are over 18 see Changing your name.

When can I get a tattoo?

You have to be 18 to get a tattoo unless you have the written consent of a parent. The consent has to cover the part of your body where you get the tattoo.

When can I get my body pierced?

If you are under 18 it is unlawful to get certain "intimate" parts of your body pierced, eg to put in a genital and nipple stud or ring, even if your parent consents. Other parts can be pierced if you have the written consent of a parent or guardian.

The consent of a parent or guardian is not needed to get your ears pierced if you are at least 16 years of age.

What are my options if I am pregnant?

You have options which can include : going ahead with the pregnancy and keeping the baby, or having the baby and adopting out, or having an abortion.

A counsellor, nurse or doctor can help you think through your choices. You can get more than one opinion.

There is no minimum age for keeping your baby. You have to be able to care for yourself and the baby and keep the baby safe. See the Department of Health website for information on pregnancy support for under 18s.

If you want to know more about adoption contact the Department for Child Protection and Family Support or visit its website.

If you are under 16 years of age and still living at home a parent or legal guardian must be informed that you are considering an abortion. Your parent or guardian must be given the chance to participate in the counselling process between you and the doctor but the final decision is yours. In special circumstances if you do not want to tell your parent/guardian you can apply to the Children's Court for an order to go ahead with an abortion without your parent's involvement. Get legal advice in this situation. Contact Legal Aid WA's InfoLine on 1300 650 579 for information and referral.

What if I am in the care of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and have a problem or complaint?

The Advocate for Children in Care may be able to assist you. See Decisions of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.

What if I have been injured as the result of a crime?

You may be eligible for compensation if you have suffered an injury. Time limits apply. See Compensation for victims of crime.

When can I vote?

You can register to vote when you are 17 if you are an Australian citizen, but you can't vote until you turn 18.

Once you are 18, if you are an Australian citizen it is compulsory to enrol and vote in state and federal government  elections. You will be fined if you are registered and don’t vote unless you have a valid and sufficient reason for not voting. Before you can vote you must place your name on the electoral roll.

In Western Australia it is not compulsory to vote in local government elections.

When can I make a will?

When you are 18 you can make your own will. For more information see Wills.

Where can I get more information?

  • The Cybersmart website managed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has useful information for children and young people, about cybersafety issues including how to be in control of online activity.
  • The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has a publication The Easy Guide to Socialising Online which provides information on how internet users can protect themselves and their information when using social networking sites, search engines and online games. It can be downloaded at the DBCDE website.
  • At the DBCDE website you can download a Cybersafety Help Button free application. It provides internet users, particularly children and young people, with easy online access to cybersafety information and assistance available in Australia. It offers counselling, reporting and educational resources to assist young people deal with online risks including cyberbullying, unwanted contact, scams and fraud, and offensive or inappropriate material.
  • Contact the Australian Electoral Commission or the West Australian Electoral Commission for more information on how to enrol to vote.
  • Contact Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. It is a free, confidential and anonymous counselling service for young people aged between five and 25. Counselling is also available at times online on the Kids Helpline website
  • Visit the Department of Commerce WA website under the heading Labour Relations for resources for young workers.
  • Visit the Department of Health website for information on youth/teenage health.
  • Visit The Line an online magazine designed by young people for young people with information on respectful relationships.
  • Visit the website Get the Facts for information for young people on relationships and safer sex.
  • The CPFS website for the Advocate for Children in Care has information on the Charter of Rights for children and young people in care.
  • Visit the Lawstuff website (click on WA) for information on young people's rights on a range of topics.
  • If you are aged under 25 and want information to help with first time financial decisions related to credit and debt issues, getting a car, online transactions, starting work, moving out of home, mobile phones deals and plans visit the MoneySmart Rookie website.
  • See the My Car website if you are buying a car. It provides essential information for car buyers, whether buying privately, through a car dealership or at auction. Use this website to learn about your legal rights when buying a car and where to get help if something goes wrong.
  • If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Perth you may find the City of Perth Homeless Services in the Inner City Directory useful. You can view this on the City of Perth website. Many community organisations will also have copies.

  Last reviewed : 27/04/2012

 

Last Modified: 22/11/2013

Disclaimer

The material displayed on this page is intended for information only. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia believes that the information provided is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions.