Stage 1 | Subject outline | version control

Legal Studies Stage 1
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024.
Accredited in June 2020 for teaching at Stage 1 from 2021. 

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Focus areas | Optional focus area | Example 4: Young People and the Law

Example 4: Young People and the Law

The rights and interests of young people are protected through state, territory, national, and international laws. Students investigate and debate a range of issues, such as young people’s views on drugs, vandalism, child abuse, parental responsibility, shoplifting, health, work, and under-age drinking.

In providing a response to the big questions, students make one or more connections to the concepts of rights, fairness and justice, power, and change.

Students may consider the following elements of Optional focus area: Young people and the law as a basis for their inquiry:

  • the rights of young people
  • common law rights
  • statutory rights
  • international rights obligations
  • human rights
  • access to justice.

Current/relevant structures include:

  • the juvenile justice system
  • the Youth Court
  • family conferencing.

Big questions include:

  • How effective is the juvenile justice system?
  • Is the Youth Court effective in dealing with criminal actions by young people? 
  • Is family conferencing effective in preventing crime?
  • Are young people adequately protected by legislation?
  • Are there sufficient rights recognised by common law?
  • How does the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child affect young people?
  • Are young people adequately protected within family relationships?
  • Should the rights of the child be different from the rights of the adolescent?
  • Does the law adequately address issues such as a mobile phone contract and internet protocols (for example, downloading of music, plagiarism, and copyright)?
  • Is justice the same for all people, regardless of age/ethnicity/gender? 
  • Should teenagers be able to vote?

Students explore the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA), and any current legislation and relevant cases.

Through developing their response to big questions, students should understand and evaluate the Australian legal system’s approach to young people and the law and make recommendations for change as appropriate.

Possible inquiry questions include:

  • What does it mean to lack legal capacity?
  • What does the phrase ‘age of criminal responsibility’ mean?
  • What are my rights and responsibilities under law as a child/teenager?
  • How are children and teenagers treated differently from adults in the criminal justice system?
  • What specific protections are written into legislation to preserve the rights of teenagers?
  • How would you access reliable information about your legal rights?
  • How can young people influence meaningful legal change?