Domestic Discipline (Tas)

In all states and territories of Australia, it is lawful to use reasonable force to physically discipline a child for misbehaviour. There is a different legislative scheme in every jurisdiction governing domestic discipline. In Tasmania, it is set out in section 50 of the Criminal Code Act 1924. This page deals with the defence of domestic discipline in Tasmania.


Section 50 of the Criminal Code Act 1924 states that it is lawful for a parent, or a person acting in the place of the parents, to use reasonable force towards a child in their care by way of correction.

What is corporal punishment?

Corporal punishment, also known as physical punishment or physical discipline, occurs when a person causes pain or discomfort to another person in response to misbehaviour. The corporal punishment of children often involves hitting, spanking, or striking with an instrument such as a cane. It may also include forcing a child to remain in an uncomfortable position for a period of time.

Defence of domestic discipline

a person who is charged with an assault offence that arises out of an incident where they were disciplining a child in their care may rely on the defence of domestic discipline. However, this defence will only be successful if the level of force used was reasonable in the circumstances.

What is reasonable force?

The level of force that will be found to be reasonable when disciplining a child will depend on the following factors:

  • the age, maturity, and physical size of the child
  • the area of the body to which the force is applied
  • the nature and extent of the misbehaviour for which the child is being disciplined.

Education and care settings

In Tasmania, physical punishment is prohibited by staff and volunteers working at some early childhood education and care facilities. This prohibition is contained in section 166 of the Education and Care Act 2011. However, this provision does not apply to all education and care settings for young children.

The Education Act 2016 prohibits the use of physical punishment in schools in Tasmania.

Other jurisdictions

Corporal punishment of children is permitted in all Australian states and territories. However, the use of physical punishments in schools is prohibited in all Australian jurisdictions with the exception of Queensland.

Physical punishment of children has been prohibited in many other countries.

Criticisms of the defence of domestic discipline

The defence of domestic discipline has long been criticised, with some saying that Australia is lagging ehind other countries in outlawing the use of corporal punishment against children. There is a growing body of research that indicates that physical punishment is linked to further behavioural issues, the development of mental health issues, and involvement in domestic violence later in life.

Supporters of the defence of domestic discipline argue that parents need to retain the right to physically discipline their children for misbehaviour and that corporal punishment is an effective way of doing this and of imposing boundaries.

If you require legal advice or representation in any 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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