People that work with young people, and the organisations they work for are required to comply with a number of different Acts of Parliament and subordinate (or delegated) legislation made under Acts of Parliament. This legislation is interpreted in various National and State Policies, as well as in our organisation policies and procedures.

Below are some legislation that youth workers, organisations and government departments are required to comply with. The list includes legislation regarding Alcohol and Other Drugs, Child and Young Persons Protection, Child Death, Complaints and Reportable Conduct, Crime and Youth Justice, Disability, Discrimination, Employment, Family Law, Guardianship and Adoption, Mental Health, Personal Information and Record Keeping, Victims Rights, and Welfare.

Click on the Act title to view the legislation.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Summary Offences Act 1998

Section 11 covers possession of liquor by minors. A person under the age of 18 years is guilty of an offence if the person possesses or consumes any liquor in a public place, unless the person establishes that:

  1. the person was under the supervision of a responsible adult, or
  2. the person had a reasonable excuse for possessing or consuming the liquor.

Maximum penalty: $20. Alcohol will be confiscated and forfeited to the crown. Note: There is an offence for possession and one for consumption.

Liquor Act 2007

Supplying Alcohol to minors: Part 7 discusses this. A person must not supply liquor to a minor on any premises other than licensed premises unless the person is a parent or guardian of the minor. Maximum penalty: $11,000 or 12 months imprisonment (or both) or an on-the-spot fine of $1,100.

Transporting people drinking alcohol in a car: There is no offence for this, only for the driver drinking consuming alcohol while driving.

Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Goods Act 1985

The Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Goods Act 1985 was created to prohibit the manufacture, supply, possession and use of certain drugs and for related purposes.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment Act 2007

The Drug and Alcohol Treatment Act 2007 provides for the health and safety of persons with severe substance dependence through involuntary detention, care, treatment and stabilisation. The Act has replaced the Inebriates Act 1912 with the aim to provide effective and supportive drug and alcohol involuntary treatment that is more consistent with contemporary values of human rights and dignities of severely dependent people.

The Drug Court Act 1998

This Act provides for the establishment of the Drug Court of New South Wales, for the referral of drug offenders to the Drug Court, and for the supervision of drug programs by the Drug Court; and for other purposes.

Inebriates Act 1912

The Inebriates Act 1912 was created to provide for the care, control and treatment of people who habitually use intoxicating liquor or intoxicating or narcotic drugs to excess.

Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966

The purpose of the Act is the regulation, control and prohibition of the supply and use of poisons, restricted substances, drugs of addiction, certain dangerous drugs and certain therapeutic drugs. The Pharmacotherapy Credentialing Sub-Committee (PCS) operates within sections 27 to 30 of this Act and these sections relate to the authorisation of prescribers under the NSW Opioid Treatment Program. The primary role of the PCS is to make recommendations to the Director-General, through the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee, on the approval of medical practitioners as prescribers of drugs of addiction under the NSW Opioid Treatment Program.

Child and Young Persons Protection

Child and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998

The Children  and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 establishes  the legislative framework governing child wellbeing and providing child  protection and out-of-home care services in NSW. The over-riding principle of the Act is that the  safety, welfare and wellbeing of children or young people must be paramount in  all decisions (section 9). All agencies must work together to achieve this. For information on this shared approach to child protection, see the Keep Them Safe website where you can access further information about reporting, and access the Online Mandatory Reporters Guide.

The Children and Young Persons (Care and  Protection) Act 1998 is supplemented by a range of other legislative and  regulatory instruments.

Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012

The object of this Act is to protect children by not permitting certain persons to engage in child-related work, and by requiring persons engaged in child-related work to have working with children check clearances.

Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 & Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004

Two Acts in NSW have established a Child Protection Register and create orders which control the conduct of people on the Register who allegedly continue to pose a danger to children. These are the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 which provides that registrable persons must register with police and provide information; and the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 which allows a Local Court to make orders restricting the conduct of registrable persons.

Children’s Court Act 1987

This Act establishes the roles and responsibilities of the Children’s Court. The Children’s Court is a specialist court to deal with cases involving children. The Children’s Court deals with criminal cases, applications for apprehended violence orders, applications for compulsory schooling orders and cases involving the care and protection of children.

Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998

This provides for conducting the NSW Working with Children Check and also administering the Child Sex Offender Counsellor Accreditation Scheme.

Child Death

Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act 1993

This Act provides the Ombudsman with the power to conduct systemic reviews of the deaths of children at risk of harm or those in care.

Coroners Act 1980

This Act requires the Coroner or the Deputy Coroner to examine certain child deaths, including those of a child in care, a child in respect of whom a report was made under Part 2 of Chapter 3 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and a child whose death is or maybe due to abuse or neglect or that occurs in suspicious circumstances.

Complaints and Reportable Conduct

Ombudsman Act 1974

Any complaints about the conduct of NSW government agencies, including departments, statutory authorities, councils, public officials and staff fall under the Ombudsman Act 1974. They are reported to the NSW Ombudsman. As well as complaint handling, the role of the Ombudsman also includes monitoring and reviewing the provision of community services, and oversighting employer handling of allegations of reportable conduct against their employees.

  • Ombudsman Act 1974, Part 3A– Under this Act, the NSW Ombudsman oversees and monitors the investigation of, and management response to, child abuse allegations and convictions against employees of certain government and non government agencies.

Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act 1993

The NSW Ombudsman oversees complaints about organisations and individuals who provide community services, guided by this Act.

Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994

The NSW Ombudsman deal with public interest disclosures and provide advice to public sector workers who are thinking about reporting wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.


It is generally accepted that most young people over 16 are capable of giving their own informed consent. Those younger, may sometimes be considered mature minors.The mature minor principle has been confirmed in Australian common law, such that minors (< 18 years) may be able to give informed consent if they have sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable full understanding of what is proposed.If there is a need to determine the mature minor status of the young person discuss with a consultant. There are some useful resources available that can assist from Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australian Law Reform Commission and the North East Valley Division of General Practice.

Crimes Act 1900

Section 66C states that the age of consent for sexual interactions is 16 years. There is no legal defence in legislation when charges are made to a person charged with engaging in sexual activities with a person under the legal age.

Criminal Code Act 1995 & Crimes Act 1900

These two Acts covers ages of consent for sexualised photography. Sexting involves a person sending pictures via mobile phone depicting a person in a sexual context, whether an act or even a pose, for example a young female sending pictures of her breasts to a friend or partner Under the eyes of the law if you are under the age of 18 you are considered children for this offence and as such it is considered child pornography.

Crime and Youth Justice

Crimes Act 1900, Crimes Act 1914 & The Federal Criminal Code Act 1995

The Crimes Act 1900 is a New South Wales statute that codifies the common law crimes for the state of New South Wales in Australia. Along with the Crimes Act 1914 and the Federal Criminal Code Act 1995 (both federal), these two pieces of legislation form the majority of criminal law for New South Wales. Within this legislation is information about all crimes.

Young Offenders Act 1997

The Act provides a system of diversionary measures as alternatives to court proceedings for children who commit certain offences. These diversionary measures follow a hierarchy of informal police warnings, formal police cautions, and youth justice conferences.
The objects of the Act include:

  • establishing a scheme that sets out an alternative process to court proceedings;
  • providing an efficient and direct response to the commission by children of certain offences; and
  • dealing with young offenders in a way that enables a community-based negotiated response, emphasises restitution and acceptance of responsibility by the offender, and meets the needs of victims and offenders

The age of criminal responsibility in Australia is above ten years of age. Doli incapax is when a child is deemed incapable of forming the intent to commit a crime or tort, especially by reason of age (under ten years old). Doli incapax can apply up to 14 years of age.


Disability Inclusion Act 2014

Formerly the Disability Services Act 1993, The legislation has two broad aims – one is to say how disability supports and services will be provided in NSW until we have fully moved to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by mid-2018. The other is to make sure that even after we have moved to the NDIS, that NSW is a place where people with disability can access mainstream services and be part of the community. Specifically, the Act sets out to:

  • make it clear that people with disability have the same human rights as other people
  • promote the inclusion of people with disability by requiring government departments and local councils to engage in disability inclusion action planning
  • support people with disability to exercise choice and control through individualised funding wherever possible; and
  • provide safeguards for people accessing NSW funded disability supports and services, including new employment screening requirements and the need for disability accommodation providers to report abuse or neglect of people with disability to the Ombudsman.

See also Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (below)


Age Discrimination Act 2004

The Age Discrimination Act 2004 helps to ensure that people are not treated less favourably on the ground of age in various areas of public life including: employment; provision of goods and services; education; administration of Commonwealth laws and programs. The Act also provides for positive discrimination – that is, actions which assist people of a particular age who experience a disadvantage because of their age. This law operates at a federal level and the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under it.

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986

Formerly called the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986, The AHRC Act established the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (now known as the Australian Human Rights Commission) and gives it functions in relation to the following international instruments:

In addition, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has specific functions under the AHRC Act 1986 and the Native Title Act 1993 to monitor the human rights of Indigenous people.

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 has as its major objectives to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities, promote community acceptance of the principle that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as all members of the community, and ensure as far as practicable that people with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as other people in the community.

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

This Act gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Its major objectives are to promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin; and make discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.

Sex Discrimination Act 1984

The Act gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 156. Its major objectives are to promote equality between men and women; eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, with respect to dismissals, family responsibilities; eliminate sexual harassment at work, in educational institutions, in the provision of goods and services, in the provision of accommodation and the delivery of Commonwealth programs.

Anti Discrimination Act 1977

This is a NSW Act and the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board monitors, and promotes anti-discrimination and equal opportunity principles and policies throughout NSW. The Act covers the following types of discrimination: Sex (including breastfeeding, pregnancy and sexual harassment); Disability (including past, present or future disability and also includes actual or perceived HIV status); Race (including ethno-religion); Homosexuality (actual or perceived) Marital or domestic status; Age (present or future) Transgender (including transsexuality) Carer’s responsibilities (but only within employment).


Fair Work Act 2009

This act creates a national workplace relations system that is fair to working people, flexible for business and promotes productivity and economic growth. There are a number of amendments that can be found on the Fair Work Commission Website.

Workplace Relations Act 1996

This Act is an Australian law passed by the Howard Government after coming into power in 1996. It replaced the previous Labor Government’s Industrial Relations Act 1988. It provided for the continuation of the federal award system which provides a minimum set of terms and conditions for employment. This includes classification of employees; hours of work; rates of pay; piece rates, tallies and bonuses; various forms of leave (e.g. annual and long service leave); public holidays; allowances; penalty rates; redundancy pay; notice of termination; dispute settling procedures; stand down provisions; jury service; and pay and conditions.

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth)

An Act to require certain employers to promote equal opportunity for women in employment, to establish the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency and the office of the Director of Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace.

Industrial Relations Act 1996

The objects of this Act are: to provide a framework for the conduct of industrial relations in NSW. This Act only applies to employees in the State government sector.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

A NSW Act to secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work; to repeal the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983; and for other purposes.

Workers Compensation Act 1987

A NSW Act to provide for the compensation and rehabilitation of workers in respect of work related injuries. This Act was amended in 2012.

Long Service Leave Act 1955

Long service leave applies to most NSW employees who are full-time, part-time or casuals. If you have been working for the same employer for 10 years you are entitled to 2 months (8.67 weeks) paid leave, to be paid at your ordinary gross weekly wage under the NSW Long Service Leave Act 1955. To calculate the entitlement of a worker try this Long service leave calculator.

Family Law

Family Law Act 1975

The Family Law Act 1975, sometimes referred to as the FLA by legal practitioners, is an Act of the Australian Parliament. It is one of four separate Acts that provide the framework for family law in Australia.

Guardianship and Adoption

Adoption Act 2000

The legal framework for the adoption of children in NSW and (in conjunction with other legislation) those from overseas.

Guardianship Act 1987

This sets out the responsibilities, functions, orders and principles that the Guardianship Tribunal applies when appointing guardians for people with disabilities, including young people aged 16–17.


Mental Health Act 2007

The Mental Health Act 2007 came into effect on 16 November 2007, when the Mental Health Act 1990 ceased to have effect. The objects of the 2007 Act are to make provisions with respect to the care, treatment and control of mentally ill persons and mentally disordered persons and other matters relating to mental health. For more information on regulations, and forms, see the NSW Health website

See also Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, and Health Administration Act 1982 (below)

Personal Information and Record Keeping

*For information relating to how long FACS funded service’s files should be retained, please see this information from Family and Community Services.

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIP Act) outlines how New South Wales (NSW) public sector agencies manage personal information and the functions of the NSW Privacy Commissioner. It sets out sets out requirements for the collection, storage, access and accuracy, use and disclosure of personal information.

Agencies that are bound by the PPIP Act are NSW public sector agencies, statutory authorities, universities, NSW local councils, and other bodies whose accounts are subject to the Auditor General. You can find a complete list of agencies on the NSW Government Directory and a complete list of NSW councils on the Office of Local Government website.

*For information relating to how long FACS funded service’s files should be retained, please see this information from Family and Community Services.

The Privacy Act 1988

The Privacy Act 1988 is an Australian law which regulates the handling of personal information about individuals. This includes the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information, and access to and correction of that information. The Privacy Act includes:

  • 13 Australian Privacy Principles that apply to the handling of personal information by most Australian and Norfolk Island Government agencies and some private sector organisations
  • Credit reporting provisions that apply to the handling of credit-related personal information that credit providers are permitted to disclose to credit reporting bodies for inclusion on individuals’ credit reports.

The Privacy Act also:

  • regulates the collection, storage, use, disclosure, security and disposal of individuals’ tax file numbers
  • permits the handling of health information for health and medical research purposes in certain circumstances, where researchers are unable to seek individuals’ consent
  • allows the Information Commissioner to approve and register enforceable APP codes that have been developed by an APP code developer, or developed by the Information Commissioner directly
  • permits a small business operator, who would otherwise not be subject to the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and any relevant privacy code, to opt-in to being covered by the APPs and any relevant APP code
  • allows for privacy regulations to be made.

*For information relating to how long FACS funded service’s files should be retained, please see this information from Family and Community Services.

Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002

This Act sets out the requirements for the collection, storage, access and accuracy, use and disclosure of personal health information. Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (HRIPA) governs personal health information held by public sector agencies, private sector organisations and non-government organisations in NSW.

State Records Act 1998

The State Records Act directs each public office to maintain full and accurate records of the office’s activities

Health Administration Act 1982

The Health Services Act 1997 is the principal Act regulating the governance and management of the public health system in NSW. The Act establishes the NSW public health system as comprising:

  • local health districts;
  • statutory health corporations, including board, chief executive and network governed statutory health corporations;
  • affiliated health organisations (with respect to their recognised services); and
  • the Director-General of the NSW Ministry of Health (the Director-General) with respect to ambulance services and other services to support the public health system.

Freedom of Information Act 1982

Individuals have the right to request access to documents from Australian Government ministers and most agencies under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. The FOI Act was reformed in 2010. These reforms placed new pro-disclosure requirements on agencies and ministers and provided greater review and complaint rights for individuals.

Evidence Act 1995

This Act defines what documents, including records, can be used as evidence in a Commonwealth court, A court may neet to examine records as evidence of an organisations decisions and actions.

Victims Rights

Victims Rights Act 1996 & Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996

A child or young person who has experienced abuse may be eligible for compensation. Victims Services New South Wales runs the scheme, which also helps victims in other ways, such as with counselling, support and information.

Welfare and Health

Community Welfare Act 1987

This Act aims to ensure the provision, to the maximum extent possible, of services for and assistance to people disadvantaged due to lack of food, shelter or other basic necessities, natural disasters (for example, floods), disability, age, ethnic group membership, lack of family support.

Civil Liability Act 2002

Part 8 of the Act discusses protection of a Good Samaritan (someone who, in good faith and without expectation of payment or other reward, comes to the assistance of a person who is apparently injured or at risk of being injured)

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