Young People and the Law


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As of the 12th February 2018 a rational and long overdue legislative change came into force.

As a result of the passing of the Youth Justice and Other Legislation (Inclusion of 17 year-old Persons) Amendment Act in 2016, the age that a person can be charged as an adult has changed from 17 to 18 years of age. As a result, all young people aged between 10 and 18 will now be dealt with as a child in the Children’s Court jurisdiction and under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act 1992.

The legislation is designed to assist in reforms across Youth Justice to better enable the rehabilitation of young offenders and to keep the community safe.

The commencement of the legislation and its supporting transitional regulation from the 12th February 2018 means that:-

  1. All 17 year olds on community-based orders will transfer to the Youth Justice supervision;
  2. All 17 year olds in adult custody are eligible for transfer from an adult correctional centre to a Youth detention centre, if it is in that young person’s best interests and is safe to do so.

In respect of court proceedings, young people will now be transferred to the Youth Justice system at the following times:-

  1. The first time the matter is before the Court after the commencement of the legislation;
  2. Following the completion of a hearing after the commencement (where the hearing has been part-heard) and the young person is convicted; and
  3. When a community based order is breached.

Some transitional provisions of note in the Youth Justice (Transitional) Regulation 2018 include:-

  1. Any proceedings for an offence against s29 (1) of the Bail Act 1980 that has not resulted in a conviction are to be withdrawn at the first court appearance for the proceeding after the commencement and the proceeding for the offence ends.
  2. If a person has been committed for trial or sentence for an offence before the commencement and immediately before the commencement an Indictment for the offence has not been presented in the District or Supreme Court, on the commencement the person must be treated as a child in relation to the offence and the Youth Justice Act applies.
  3. If the person is on an adult Probation Order the period of Probation stated in the adult Order for which the person is placed on Probation continues despite the provisions in the Youth Justice Act.
  4. If the person is on an adult community service order, the number of hours stated in the adult order for which the person is placed continues to apply despite the maximum period stated in the Youth Justice Act.

These changes go side-by-side with the introduction of Supervised Bail Accommodation in 2017. It is hoped that such service will help to achieve a reduction in the large number of young people in detention on remand as well as assisting young people on bail to make meaningful changes to their lives. At present, the number of centres is limited however more are planned to open across Queensland in due course.

A large number of children in youth detention in Queensland are presently on remand simply because they do not have the necessary support or a safe and secure home to reside. The service is a step in the right direction in rectifying such high remand rates and provides the additional benefit of reducing the risk of exposing young people to a custodial environment, which often has a long-lasting and negative effect.

Written by: Fisher Dore

This article is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact the Fisher Dore team.


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