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Each quarter, our peer reviewed journal publishes up to six research- and practice-based articles on Australian youth. Find out more.

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Information resources

Rights, legal issues

The Australian Human Rights Commission (formerly known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or HREOC) is a national independent statutory government body established in 1986; the federal Attorney General is the Minister responsible in Parliament for the Commission. Their site includes Australian Human Rights: Youth Challenge, a human rights education program developed by the commission that aims to educate school students about human rights through guided activities, surveys, personal stories and prompted questions for discussion.

DCI-Australia: The Australian Section of Defence for Children International, is a non-government organisation, part of a global chain of children's rights agencies recognised by the United Nations. The DCI's actions and campaigns are guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which focuses on people under 18 years of age and sets out the principles of children's rights to protection, provision, promotion and participation.

The National Children's and Youth Law Centre (NCYLC) is a community legal centre dedicated to addressing human right issues for children and young people through legal change. The centre is "at the forefront of public advocacy for the rights of children and young people. It lobbies governments and decision-making bodies to recognise and apply the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child". Youth services of the NCYLC include:
  • Lawstuff is an NCYLC services that aimes to simplify major legal issues for Australian children and young people from primary school age upwards.
  • Lawmail is an initiative whereby lawyers at the NCYLC responds to young people's requests for legal information.

Australia's Childrens Commissioners:

For details about each state's commissioners, see the Australian Institute of Family Studies page titled, Commissioners and Guardians for Children: a national snapshot, which gives excellent summary information about each of Australia's state and territories' commissioners.

The Legal Information Access Centre, based in the State Library of NSW, is a source of free legal information, offering plain-language legal resources, as well as help with complex inquiries and primary materials in the State Library. LIAC's 'Hot topics' series is useful for students.

Human rights today: Discussing the issues, accepting the challenge is a curriculum resource developed by Curriculum Corporation for Amnesty International Australia. Intended for use by teachers and students in Years 9 and 10, it helps students explore how human rights are defined and formalised, how people experience their rights and how people and organisations defend human rights. The resource also contains activities that students can undertake to defend human rights.

The law handbook: A legal tool kit contains a chapter on children and young people, with practical information about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children and criminal law, including the Children's Court, young offenders, the care and protection of children, employment and income issues, discrimination, the age of consent and children's services, adoption, school.

Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) is a joint facility of the law faculties at the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of New South Wales. AustLII provides free Internet access to Australian legal materials including information about federal and state legislation and cases. The AustLII website contains a list of Australian community legal centres.

Examples of youth-focused legal centres include:

Australian Law Reform Commission
Web site:
This is a permanent, independent federal statutory corporation operating under the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth.) The commission works on major activities referred to it by the federal Attorney-General. Although the Commission does not initiate its own inquiries, it can suggest areas in need of reform. Their site includes an extensive list of publications, many of them in full text and relevant to family law.
Australasian Legal Information Institute
Web site:
AustLII is one of the largest sources of legal materials on the net, providing free access to a wide variety of Australian legal materials, including information about Federal and State legislation and cases. AustLII's broad public policy agenda is to improve access to justice through better access to information. AustLII is a project of the law faculties at the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of New South Wales.

Seen and heard revisited

Released over a decade ago, the report, Seen and heard: Priority for children in the legal process (Australian Law Reform Commission report n.84, 1997) was the culmination of a major two-year inquiry on how children and young people are treated by Australia's legal system and Australia's international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In 2008, the ALRC's journal, Reform (n.92, Winter 2008) took a look at how Australia's treatment of children and young people in the legal process measured up against the recommendations of the Seen and heard report. It includes an eponymous article, 'Seen and heard revisited', an overview of the progress made by government since the publication of the Seen and heard report, presented by James McDougall, Tiffany Overall (National Children's and Youth Law Centre) and Peter Henley (Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Melbourne).
This issue of Reform also contains items from Luke Bo'sher of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition on the participation of young people in the democratic process, and a personal account by Hugh Evans of the 2020 Youth Summit . That issue of 'Reform' also includes articles on:
* the current rights and life chances of Indigenous children;
* Indigenous children and youth and the attempts by the National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia to engage with young Indigenous people;
* the changes made to the Family Court and the family law system over the past decade, and the positive outcomes for children and young people in family dispute resolution and legal proceedings;
* the failures and achievements of juvenile justice over the past 10 years;
* the specific recommendations of the Seen and heard report ;
* child protection and children in out-of-home care;
* the changing legal framework for inter-country adoption;
* providing a regulatory framework for family life in Australia and an adequate means for dispute resolution;
* the work of the Children's Commissioners in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Northern Territory, positions established since the release of Seen and heard;
* the legal, social and ethical issues associated with genetic testing of minors;
* the sexualisation of children in the media and the disturbing link to mental health problems; and
* the problem of bullying and violence against young people in the workforce.
In addition, it contains a review of children and the law in the Solomon Islands, and an overview of the problems facing young people in the workforce.

For information on the journal, Reform including its subscription rates and contact details, see: 

Source: 'Youth Field Xpress', n.146, October 2008.

Youth Studies Australia back issues and articles

If you are a subscriber to the electronic version of Youth Studies Australia, you can access all back issues of YSA that are online on this website.

Back issues and articles are also available for purchase at the following rates:

Back issues

From last 12 months $22.00 each including GST and postage
Prior to last 12 months $11.00 each including GST and postage


Provided as PDFs (or photocopies if electronic copy is unavailable).

$5.50 including GST, and postage if applicable.

Back issues/articles order form

For further information, and prices outside Australia, contact ACYS:
Ph: +61 3 6226 2591
Fax: +61 3 6226 2578
Email: [email protected]

How general practitioners determine young people's rights, by Terence Bartholomew
v.28, n.2, 2009, pp.5-13. View summary | Full text: HTML | PDF

Reasonable limits and exemptions: Victoria's human rights charter and its implications for young people, by Judith Bessant
v.28, n.2, 2009, pp.14-22. View summary | Full text: HTML | PDF

Who is upholding the rights of young workers? A profile of advocacy groups in Australia, by Paula McDonald and Kerriann Dear.
v.24 n.3, 2005, pp.10-16.

Public space: A rights-based approach, by Anna Copeland (peer reviewed article)
v. 23, n.3, 2004, pp.40-45.

Ten arguments against mandatory sentencing, by R. White.
v.19, n.2, 2000, pp.22-24.

Human rights for young Australians in the 21st century, by L. Schetzer.
v.19, n.1, 2000, p.13.

Points of view: Mandatory reporting of abuse, by D. Sandor.
v.13, n.1, 1994, p.53.

Legal problems and youth workers, by R. White, R. Underwood and S. Omelczuk.
v.11, n.4, 1992, pp.41-45.

A rising star in the prosecution of juveniles in Victoria, by C. O'Grady.
v.11, n.4, 1992, pp.35-40.

Tipping the scales: Intended and unintended outcomes of changes to Victorian child welfare and juvenile justice legislation and practice, by C. O'Grady.
v.11, n.4, 1992, pp.28-34.

Convention on the Rights of the Child, by Convention Report
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies'.
v.8, n.4, 1989, pp.48-53.

Rights and responsibilities of youth workers, by M. White
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies', 1989 v.8 n.3, pp.41-43.

The role of an advocate for young people, by M. Rayner
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies', 1989 v.8 n.2, pp.2-9.

Youth, AIDS and the limits of the law, by G.T. Lansdell and M.J. Le Brun
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies', 1988/89 v.7/8 n.4/1, pp.18-23.

Ignorance is bliss?, by F. Staden
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies', 1987 v.6 n.3, pp.33-37.

Civil liberties and young people, by I. Gray
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies', 1987 v.6 n.3, pp.30-32.

Enhancing youth access to legal services, by I. O'Connor and C. Tilbury
'Youth Studies and Abstracts: Bulletin of the National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies', 1987 v.6 n.3, pp.22-29.