Children

NSW

  • Judicial Commission of NSW, Equality before the Law: Bench Book (2018).
    Section 6 discusses a range of issues affecting children and young people and their experience of court processes.

QLD

  • Supreme Court of Queensland, Equal Treatment Bench Book (2nd ed, 2016).

    Chapter 13 of the bench book highlights the specific vulnerabilities of and challenges faced by children in the legal system. It first discusses matters of child development, highlighting that children are to be treated less harshly because of their youth. The bench book then turns to consider the various ways in which children interact with court processes and briefly canvasses the ways in which these issues have been dealt with by legislative measures.

    At pp.151-153, the bench book looks at the issue of child development and immaturity noting that: ‘It is well recognised today that childhood and adolescence are key developmental phases, and that early experiences can affect that development. Parenting, including parental absence, plays a fundamental role in how children come to perceive themselves, as well as the world around them and how they interact with it. This includes matters such as the understanding of right and wrong, impulse control, and the taking of responsibility for one’s actions’. The bench book provides a discussion of the science regarding children’s development before stating, ‘where children are neglected or abused (particularly if severely or for prolonged periods), they are likely to progress into in a chronic state of fear and to respond accordingly. Such hyper arousal is to the detriment of other functions and also tends to mean these children struggle to comprehend any later attempts at nurturing and kindness’.

Vic

  • Judicial College of Victoria, Family Violence Bench Book (2014).
    1.1 notes that causing a child to hear, witness or be exposed to family violence amounts to family violence. 5.3 discusses in detail the impact of family violence on children. 2.5.1 discusses specific procedural protections in court proceedings relevant to children.

WA

  • Department of Justice (WA), Equal Justice Bench Book (2nd edition September 2017).

    Note: Chapter 5 Children and Young People is currently under review. Until revision is completed, the first edition chapter 5 applies. The following text is based on the first edition chapter.

    Chapter 5 provides detailed information about children giving evidence and their compellability in various proceedings including Family Law proceedings and restraining order proceedings. It includes information about communication issues including level and style of language.

Canada

  • Neilson, Linda C, Domestic Violence Electronic Bench Book (National Judicial Institute, 2017).

    Chapter 6: Children: Impact of Domestic violence & Evidence of children details the issues associated with children’s experiences of domestic violence. Most relevant are the sections relating to myths about children, and Section 6.3: Listening for evidence of child harm by age which looks at the variety of harms children are vulnerable to. It goes on to discuss ‘[d]esigning agreements and orders to limit child harm’ in Section 6.4, and also analyses issues with evidence, and court procedures in relation to children testifying.

    Also see Supplementary Reference 2: Children and Domestic Violence’ which further discusses the varying levels of exposure of children witnessing domestic violence, and understanding the impact of domestic violence on children.