Many laws applicable to your children change before they hit the ripe old age of 18.

If you have teenagers, it is important to know what their legal rights are as they move into adulthood.

Your teenagers right to…

  1. Leave school

Australian State and Territories apply different laws for school attendance. However, if you are based in NSW, your teenagers must attend school from when they turn 6 until they finish Year 10 or turn 17.

In addition, if your child has finished Year 10 but hasn’t turned 17, he or she would either need to:

  • do some other form of education or training (like TAFE or an apprenticeship)
  • do full time paid work (at least 25 hours a week)
  • do a combination of work, education and training

There are strict guidelines for the above and your child may need to get special permission from the Department of Education or the school principal.

2. Leave home

There is no law that says at what age your teenagers can leave home. The truth is that they can leave home at any age providing they have a safe place to go to. As a parent, you have a right to file a Missing Person’s Report to Police if your child leaves home and he or she has failed to notify you of his or her whereabouts.

3. Have a Facebook page

In order to have a Facebook page, you need to be 13 or over. This law is set by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. (Federal Law in America in 19980. Facebook’s guidelines state no one under 13 is allowed a profile on the site).

4. Get Married

The marriageable age in Australia is 18 years for both men and women, and two people under the age of 18 cannot marry each other. In addition, the marriage of somebody who is 16 years, but less than 18 years is only possible if the person they are marrying is 18 years or older. In this situation, parental consent and a judge or magistrate’s order are required for the minor.

5. Obtain a passport

You can apply for a passport at any age although usually children under the age of 18 would need to get consent from their parents. However, in exceptional circumstances the need for the parents consent can be waived.

6. Alcohol

It is illegal to sell or supply alcohol to people under the age of 18. However, there are no laws against teenagers drinking at home if their parents supply the alcohol. Be careful – if you supply alcohol to your teenager’s friends, you can get into trouble unless you get permission from the parents of anyone who is under 18.

7. Medical treatment

Within Australia, a child aged 14 and above can consent to simple healthcare treatments without obtaining the approval of parents of guardian, as long as health professionals believe the teenager understands the consequences and risks involved in the course of treatment.

In addition, from the age of 16, a child can consent to medical and dental treatment with the same authority as an adult.