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Office Number: (03) 9077 4834
After Hours Number: 0434 701 484

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This article Children’s Court:  A Guide for Parents is written by Georgia Hogg, Defence Lawyer, Emma Turnbull Lawyers, Specialist Criminal Lawyers.
Georgia specialises in dealing with children and young offenders and appears regularly in the Children’s Court for both summary and indictable matters.  A skilled negotiator, Georgia assists with our intervention order practice, where she has achieved positive settlements for our clients.

Introduction:  This guide aims to provide parents and guardians with essential information on navigating the Children’s Court system, understanding what is unique to this jurisdiction, and how to prepare a child for court proceedings.  This information is intended to be general in nature and to assist parents in identifying the things they need to consider when preparing a child for a Children’s Court appearance.

Understanding the Children’s Court: The Children’s Court of Victoria is a specialized court that deals with cases involving children and young people under the age of 18. The practices and procedures of the Court vary differently to the adults jurisdiction. The Court focuses on the best interests of the child, rehabilitation, and support services as primarily considerations when sentencing children. The court handles matters related to child protection, family law, criminal offenses, and other issues affecting young people. This information is primarily intended for parents and guardians of children appearing in Court hearings relating to criminal charges.

What is Unique to the Children’s Court? The Children’s Court of Victoria has specific features that distinguish it from other courts. Some unique aspects include:

  1. Child-Centered Approach: The Children’s Court places the child’s best interests at the forefront of decision-making. Judges and magistrates consider the child’s welfare, development, and rehabilitation when determining appropriate outcomes.
  2. Specialist Magistrates: The court has magistrates who specialize in dealing with matters involving children and young people. They have expertise in child development, family dynamics, and the unique legal considerations that apply in this jurisdiction.
  3. Emphasis on Rehabilitation: The Children’s Court focuses on rehabilitation and providing support services to address the underlying issues that may contribute to a child’s involvement in the justice system. The court aims to provide opportunities for growth, change, and reintegration.
  4. Privacy and Confidentiality: The Children’s Court recognises the importance of privacy and confidentiality, particularly when dealing with sensitive matters involving children. Court proceedings and records are usually kept confidential, protecting the child’s identity and ensuring their privacy. There is no public access to the Children’s Court list.

Preparing a Child for Court: Preparing a child for court can help alleviate anxiety and ensure they understand the process. Here are some important considerations:

  1. Explain the Process: Provide age-appropriate explanations of the court process, including what to expect, who will be present, and the purpose of the proceedings. Address any concerns or misconceptions the child may have. Your lawyer can assist in this process.
  2. Reassure and Support: Offer emotional support to the child, assuring them that you are there to help and support them throughout the process. Encourage them to ask questions and express their feelings.
  3. Meet with Legal Representation: Consult with a lawyer who specializes in child-related matters. They can guide you and your child through the legal process, explain the child’s rights, and advocate for their best interests.
  4. Visit the Court: If possible, arrange a visit to the Children’s Court before the hearing. Familiarize the child with the courtroom environment and introduce them to the court personnel involved, such as the magistrate or judge.
  5. Role Play: Consider role-playing the court process with the child to help them understand what might happen during the hearing. This can alleviate anxiety and help them feel more prepared.
  6. Address Support Needs: Identify any additional support needs the child may have, such as counselling services or special accommodations. Inform the court in advance so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Seeking Legal Advice: Navigating the Children’s Court system can be complex, and it is essential to seek legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Qualified legal professionals specializing in children’s matters can provide personalized guidance, represent your child’s interests, and ensure their rights are protected.

Note: This information serves as a general guide only and should not be considered legal advice. For accurate and individual information, please book a consult with one of our specialist lawyers.

About the Directors:

Emma Turnbull is a passionate advocate for justice, equality, and empowerment. With her deep commitment to making a positive impact, she has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of individuals facing prosecution by the State and promoting social change.

“I firmly believe that each and every one of us has the power to create meaningful change. It starts by finding our voices, standing up for what is right, and ensuring that everyone, whether they have a five day or three month jury trial, receives a fair hearing. My goal is that win or lose, every client feels they have received a fair trial, with their voice heard and their best defence put forward.”

Adrian Lewin is a seasoned criminal lawyer renowned for his unwavering dedication to defending the rights of individuals facing legal challenges. With his extensive experience and expertise in criminal law, Adrian has successfully represented clients in a wide range of complex cases. Known for his strategic thinking and meticulous preparation, he tirelessly fights for justice, ensuring that every client receives the strongest possible defence.