Children's Court of New South Wales


Children's Court of New South Wales

The Children's Court of New South Wales is a court which deals with criminal offences committed by children over 10 and under 18 as well as with proceedings relating to the care and protection of children. The court commenced on 18 January 1988.

Contents

Colonial times

The treatment of juvenile offenders in the colony of New South Wales reflected the system of criminal law inherited from England. There was nothing unusual in that as the law of Australia at that time was heavily influenced by the social norms of English society.

As a result, children criminals were treated no differently than adult criminals. They were liable to the same harsh penalties. The Judicial Commission cites an example of one English judge who, after condemning a 10 year old boy to death, described the boy as “a proper subject for capital punishment”. The commission also noted that on one day in 1815, five children aged between eight and 12 years were hanged for petty larceny in England.

History

The first children's court was established under the Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905. The Judicial Commission of New South Wales states the first court was set up in the spirit of parens patriae, a jurisdiction that was exercised by the superior courts of the United Kingdom and as a consequence, of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The court was set up in light of the widespread poverty and child neglect at that time. The courts had to assume the role of parent, protector and ultimate punisher.

Current court

The present children's court is constituted under the Children's Court Act 1987. It is an inferior court and is effectively a court of record. The court was established on 18 January 1988.

Composition

The court is composed of magistrates of the Local Court of New South Wales who are appointed by the Chief Magistrate of the Local Court of New South Wales. A magistrate so appointed is called a Children's Magistrate.

The chief magistrate may with concurrence of the New South Wales Attorney General appoint a children's magistrate to be the Senior Children's Magistrate.

The Senior Children's Magistrate is effectively a deputy chief magistrate of the Local Court.

Functions of the Senior Children’s Magistrate

The Senior Children’s Magistrate administers the court, arranges sittings of the Court, and convenes meetings of Children’s Magistrates. The senior children's magistrate also confers regularly with community groups and social agencies on matters involving children and the Court.

The current senior children's magistrate is Scott Mitchell.

Jurisdiction

The court exercises criminal jurisdiction under the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987. The court exercises care jurisdiction under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. In the past it also covered the Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987 until it was repealed in 1998.

See also

References



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