In the early years of European settlement there was little difference in the way the law dealt with adults and children who committed crimes.

There was also limited government involvement with children who were abandoned or not properly cared for by their families.  However, during the middle of the 19th century the law in New South Wales began to reflect a change in approach to dealing with children who committed crimes or were destitute. These laws were introduced in recognition of the need to establish systems to rehabilitate and protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society.

The establishment of the Children's Court of NSW in 1905 represented a significant development in the law relating to children. The Children's Court of NSW is one of the oldest children's courts in the world.

Over time the legislation that governs the way in which the Children's Court deals with cases has become more complex but the fundamental principles upon which the Court was established remain the same. That is, to attempt to rehabilitate young offenders and divert them from a life defined by criminal offending and involvement in the criminal justice system and to identify and determine the most suitable arrangements for children who are in need of care and protection.

To find out more about the history of the Children's Court see:

Last updated:

22 Aug 2022

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