What Is A Minor?

What Is A Minor?

What Is A Minor

The definition of a minor can vary depending on the context and location, but generally, a minor means a child too young to make vital decisions regarding their welfare and wellbeing as they have yet to reach legal adulthood.

Find out more about minors, their limitations, specific rules and entitlements.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is A Minor?

A minor is a child or teenager under a certain age. But depending on the activity or location, the age limit can change, as state governments have the power to adjust the age of majority. In Australia, a person is considered an adult at 18, but the legal age may be younger for certain things.

As a child grows up, once they reach a particular age, they are allowed to vote, obtain a driver’s licence, purchase alcohol, gamble, or obtain part-time employment. 

Age limitations are placed on many day-to-day activities to keep children safe and ensure that they are not placed in situations where they do not have the mental capacity, decision making skills or physical capability to manage. Age limits can help protect children from harm, sexual exploitation and abuse.

Criminal Responsibility

The age of criminal responsibility is when a child can be arrested if they break the law; in Australia, it is ten years old.

Children aged between 10-13 can only be found guilty of breaking the law if it can be proven that they understood that their behaviour was seriously wrong. 

A child over 14 years old is considered fully responsible for their actions but will be tried in a children’s court and face penalties designed for children.

Once teenagers reach 18, they can be treated as adults if they are charged and found guilty of breaking the law, which means more severe penalties and incrimination.

Driving

The minimum age for teenagers to obtain a learner’s permit to drive a car in Australia is 16 years old, except in the Australian Capital Territory, which is 15 years and nine months. Once they pass their driving test, they can get their probationary licence “Ps”. The age limit for obtaining a probationary licence varies depending on which state or territory they live. 

Age Of Consent

The age of consent laws are established to help protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation by an adult. Having an age of consent legislation ensures that young people in sexual relationships possess the maturity, decision making and mental capacity to provide consent. The legal age for consensual sex varies between 16-17 years old. Any person who engages in sexual behaviour with a person under the age of consent is committing a criminal offence.

Sexting with a person under the age of 18 years is a criminal offence in all most states and territories of Australia except Victoria and Tasmania.

Minor’s Trust

A children’s or minor’s trust allows a trustee to manage and protect funds for a child until they reach a particular age. A trustee can be a family member, a friend over 18 years, or a private accounting or trustee company.

The trust is created to ensure the assets are kept safe until the child can effectively manage the trust and make their own decisions. The specified age may vary but is usually either 18, 21 or 25 years old. Sometimes, it may end when an event or milestone is reached, such as completing tertiary education. All funds in the trust must benefit the child.

A minor’s trust holds assets for a specified period, and there are several ways it can be created, such as;

  • A child inherits assets from a deceased estate/will
  • Funds set aside by a family member for a specific purpose, such as an education fund
  • Funds awarded from the court for the death of a relative
  • Superannuation benefits from a deceased family member
  • Compensation from an insurance company for an injury

Employment And Part Time Work

In most states and territories of Australia, there is no age limitation for casual or part-time employment. Still, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia have a minimum age of 13. Specific restrictions apply and exceptions to ensure that the employment conditions are fair, legal and age-appropriate. Which may include;

  • Number of hours per week minors can work
  • What hours of the day are permitted
  • Workplace supervision
  • Detrimental effects on schoolwork
  • Minors pay rates

It is vital to check state laws to ensure fair and legal employment arrangements.

Gambling

In each state and territory in Australia, a person must be at least 18 to gamble. This includes lottery tickets, scratchy cards, casinos, pokie machines, sports bets, TAB and online betting platforms. 

Unfortunately, many young people have already gambled by the time they reach 15 years old; exposure to gambling websites and applications is a lot more accessible due to smartphones and tablets providing 24-hour gambling access. 

Alcohol

In Australia, the minimum age for drinking and purchasing alcohol in a public venue or licensed premises such as a bar, restaurant or club is 18 years old. It is legal to provide alcohol to a person under 18 on private premises such as a family home if there is approval from a parent or guardian, providing adequate parental supervision.

Phones And Social Media

There is no particular age requirement about when young people are allowed to have a mobile phone; it is up to the parent’s discretion to make a decision that is best for their family situation. 

Some social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, have age restrictions; a child must be at least 13 years of age before having an account. Generally, most platforms do not have specific age limits.

Health Care

A child can visit a doctor without a guardian or parent at any time, but only once they reach 14 years old can they consent to simple health care treatments and control who has access to their health record.

A 15 year old teenager can obtain their own Medicare card, and from 16 years of age, they can consent to their own medical and dental treatments but can not refuse life-saving treatment until they are 18.

Voting

In Australia, it is compulsory for Australian citizens over 18 years old to vote or face a fine if they refuse to do so.

Tattoos

Each state and territory has legislation stating the minimum age for a teenager to get a tattoo. In South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland, it is an offence for a tattooist to give a tattoo to someone under 18 years. In other states, a teenager would need to obtain their parent’s permission and state what type of tattoo and where.

There are age restrictions regarding body piercings, and in most cases, a teenager requires parental permission; each state and territory has their own rules regarding piercings.

Summary

 In Australia, a minor becomes an adult at 18 years of age, but the legal age may be younger for certain things. The age of majority varies depending on the type of activity and location.

A child can be arrested if they break the law in Australia at ten years old.

Teenagers can obtain a learner’s permit to drive a car when they reach 16.

Legally, consensual sex can only occur once a teenager is at least 16; any adult who engages in sexual behaviour with anyone below the age of consent is committing an offence.

A person must be 18 before they can purchase or drink alcohol, gamble, vote or be charged as an adult if they are found guilty of a crime.

A minor’s trust or children’s trust allows a trustee to manage and protect funds for a child until the minor reaches a particular age.

Age limits can help protect children from harm, sexual exploitation and abuse.

FAQs

What Age Is Considered A Minor In Australia?

In Australia, a person is considered an adult at 18, but the legal age may be younger for certain things. The age of majority varies depending on the type of activity and location. For example, the age of criminal responsibility is when a child can be arrested if they break the law in Australia is ten years old. Whereas a teenager is not allowed to vote, drink alcohol or gamble until they are at least 18, the minimum age for teenagers to obtain a learner’s permit to drive a car in Australia is 16. The legal age for consensual sex varies between 16-17 years old.

How Do Minor Trusts Work?

A minor’s trust or children’s trust allows a trustee to manage and protect funds for a child until they reach a particular age; a trustee can be a family member or friend over 18; the minor’s trust is created to ensure that the assets are kept safe for a specific period or until the child can effectively manage the trust. The specified age may vary but is usually either 18, 21 or 25. Sometimes, it may end when an event or milestone is reached, such as completing tertiary education.

It can be created in several ways, such as; a child inherits assets from a deceased estate, superannuation from a deceased family member, an education fund or compensation insurance from an injury.

Simon Fletcher is the Principal Solicitor at FletchLaw. He has been admitted as a solicitor to the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of New South Wales. His academic qualifications include of a Bachelor of Laws, a Graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Practice and a Master of Applied Laws (Mediation and Family Law Dispute Resolution). He can offer assistance in a wide variety of legal areas.

Do you have a problem with The Law Regarding Minors or any other legal issue? Call us on 02 9159 9026 to find out how we can help.

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