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The Children’s Court (WA)

The Children’s Court is Western Australia deals with children between the ages of 10 and 18 who have been charged with criminal offences. It also deals with protection and care applications in respect of children and Restraining Order applications involving children.

When a child attends the Children’s Court in relation to a criminal matter, they must be accompanied by a responsible adult, who is usually a parent. The Children’s Court will deal with the matter in a way that is appropriate to the age of the child and the objective seriousness of the offence.

Criminal matters

The Children’s Court deals with young people charged with criminal offences in accordance with the Young Offenders Act 1994. Children below the age of 10 cannot be charged with a criminal offence in Western Australia. If the young person is charged with an offence whilst under 18, but turns 18 before the matter comes to court, they will be dealt with as a child by the Children’s Court.

Under the Young Offenders Act, the court must deal with a young person in a way that:

•    Ensures the young person is treated fairly;

•    Protects the community;

•    Allows victims of crime to be involved in the process;

•    Encourages and supports responsible adults to fulfil their responsibilities;

•    Considers measures other than judicial proceedings;

•    Detains the young person only as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time;

•    Assists the young person to develop a sense of responsibility;

•    Takes the age, maturity and cultural background of the young person into account;

•    Strengthens the family group of the young person;

•    Takes into account the young person’s sense of time.

If a young person is found guilty of an offence, the Children’s Court will impose an appropriate sentence, which may include a good behaviour bond, a fine, community-based order or a custodial sentence.

Care and protection

If the Department of Communities believes a child is in need of protection, it can apply for a Protection Order in respect of the child under the Children and Community Services Act 2004. If you are the parent of a child who is the subject of a Protection Order application, or another person with a material interest in the child’s wellbeing, you can file a Response to the Application. You can prepare a Response for yourself or retain a solicitor to do so for you and to represent you in court.

The Children’s Court will determine whether the subject child/ren are in need of protection. If it considers that a Protection Order needs to be made, it will decide for what period of time the order should be in force.

Restraining orders

If either the protected person or the respondent in a Restraining Order Application is a child, the application will be heard in the Children’s Court. There are three types of retraining orders in Western Australia. If the child is the protected person, a parent or guardian may lodge the application on their behalf.

Under the Restraining Orders Act 1997, a restraining order cannot be made against a child who is younger than 10. A restraining order made by the Children’s Court against a child aged between 10 and 18 must be for a duration of no longer than six months.

Misconduct Restraining Orders

A Misconduct Restraining Order (MRO) is designed to restrain a person from behaving in an offensive or intimidating manner towards the protected person, causing damage to the protected person’s property or causing a breach of the peace.

Violence Restraining Orders

A Violence Restraining Order (VRO) is designed to restrain a person who is likely to commit a violent offence against the Protected Person or behave in a manner that causes fear that they will do so.

Family Violence Restraining Orders

A Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) is designed to restrain someone who has committed family violence against you and is likely to do again.

All restraining orders made by Australian courts are now recognised in all states and territories.

If you require legal advice in relation to a Children’s Court matter or any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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