Children's Court New South Wales


The Children's Court has powers regarding parole that are similar to those of the State Parole Authority. It can deal with breaches of parole by most young people. It can also decide when to release a person who is serving a sentence of greater than three years in a detention centre. These powers can only be exercised by commissioned children's magistrates and not by other magistrates.

What is parole?

For certain offences, a child or young person can be sentenced to time in custody (a control order). This sentence usually consists of some time in custody (non-parole period) and some time out of custody (parole period).

When a young person is released to parole he or she has a number of obligations called parole conditions. Some of them are standard and are conditions of every parole order. Others are imposed by the Court at the time of sentence.

A standard condition is that the young person is to be of good behaviour, which means that no further offences are to be committed. A condition often imposed by the Court is that the young person is to accept supervision of either Youth Justice or the Community Offender Service.

For sentences of a total length of three years or less the young person is released to parole on a date decided by the court at the time of sentencing.

For sentences of a total length of greater than three years the young person is not automatically released to parole on the date decided by the court.

What happens if the parole conditions are not kept?

If the young person does not keep one or more of the conditions of parole he or she is said to have breached his or her parole. The breach may be reported by either:

  • Youth Justice providing notice of the conditions that were not met or fresh offences committed whilst on parole.
  • Any children’s or Local Court magistrate as well as any District or Supreme Court judge dealing with a fresh offence committed by the young person.

When a children's magistrate becomes aware of the reported breach of parole, the children’s magistrate will decide whether to either:

  • Take no action
  • Send a warning letter reminding the young person of the need to comply with their parole conditions
  • Decide that it appears that parole has been breached and that the young person should come to court for a hearing to determine whether the parole has been breached, and if so, what action should be taken. The young person is informed of this either by notice requiring their attendance at court or by the court issuing a warrant for the arrest of the young person.

What happens at court?

The children’s magistrate will have documents including a report from Youth Justice or the Community Offender Service about the young person, including how they have behaved during their parole period, and information about any fresh charge that is said to breach parole.

A lawyer appears on behalf of Youth Justice. This lawyer presents the evidence regarding the breach as well as recommendations concerning the parole order.

A lawyer can appear for the young person and present the young person's case about:

  • Whether the parole has been breached
  • What the circumstances were surrounding the breach of parole
  • What course the magistrate should take.

The lawyer may ask the magistrate to release the young person on a further parole order rather than requiring the young person to serve the remaining time in custody.

The children’s magistrate can deal with the case on the first day or adjourn the matter to another date so that more information can be gained. If the magistrate confirms that the young person has breached their parole the magistrate may decide to either:

  • To take no action on the breach
  • To place the young person on a varied or extended parole order
  • To revoke the order and require that the young person serve the remaining time of the sentence in custody.

Young people with sentences greater than three years

When a young person serving a sentence in a detention centre is near the end of their non-parole period, a children’s magistrate will decide whether and when they will be released on parole. The magistrate receives reports prepared by Youth Justice including:

  • Court transcripts
  • Court orders
  • A psychologist report
  • The young person's criminal history.

Is a lawyer available for the young person?

Lawyers from the Children’s Legal Service or Aboriginal Legal Service will appear on behalf of any child or young person who is not privately represented. This is provided free of charge.

Who can attend court?

All matters in the Children's Court, including parole matters, are dealt with in a closed court. Only lawyers, Youth Justice officers and family or other people supporting the young person are able to attend the court.

Where are parole matters dealt with?

Parole matters are only dealt with at the Parramatta Children's Court, 2 George Street, Parramatta.

Other agencies involved with parole cases

Children's Legal Service

Children's Legal Service (CLS) can represent all children and young people, before the Children’s Court, who are not privately represented. CSL is part of NSW Legal Aid. The Youth Hotline number is 1800 101 810. The general enquiry line is 1300 888 529.

Aboriginal Legal Service

The Aboriginal Legal Service operates similarly to the CLS but appears on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. To contact this service, phone 1800 765 76. 

Youth Justice

Youth Justice officers are social welfare workers who guide and supervise young people who are required to be supervised as a result of a sentence, including a parole order. Their adult counterpart is the Probation and Parole Service (that includes the Community Offender Service). Both agencies prepare reports for court regarding the background and circumstances of the young person, possible reasons for them committing certain offences and plans aimed at assisting the young person and preventing reoffending. 

Legislation relevant to parole matters

Last updated:

05 Sep 2023

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