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If you are a parent in Australia and have wondered, what is the right age to leave kids alone at home, here’s what you can do. The law differs from state to state in Australia.
Hindi
By
Mosiqi Acharya

25 Apr 2017 - 12:37 PM  UPDATED 25 Apr 2017 - 5:03 PM

If you are a parent in Australia and have wondered, is it illegal to leave children home alone in Australia or what is the right age to leave kids alone at home, here’s what you can do.

The law differs from state to state in Australia.

NSW

There is no clear direction in the law. You need to use your own judgment, taking into account your own family circumstances and the age and maturity of your children. Parents are expected to make ‘reasonable’ decisions about their children’s safety.

  • Parents are expected to provide food, clothing, a place to live, safety and supervision (Family Law Act 1975).
  • NSW Police or the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) can remove children from situations where their safety is in serious danger and there is no guardian present (Children and Young Persons (Care & Protection) Act 1998).
  • Parents can be charged with an offense if children are left in a dangerous situation, are not fed, clothed or provided with accommodation (Children and Young Persons (Care & Protection) Act 1998).

If your children are left alone without a carer they must be old enough to take action in an emergency, know what to do and where to get help.

Read in detail: http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/320072/home_alone.pdf

Victoria

In Victoria there is no set age at which it is legal to leave a child unattended. It depends on the child and the situation.

In Victoria it is an offense for a person responsible for a child to leave the child unattended for any longer than is reasonable, without making appropriate arrangements for the child’s supervision and care.

This includes leaving a child at home, or in a car, or anywhere else unattended.

From 21 January 2015, the penalty for leaving children unattended is a fine of 25 penalty units or imprisonment for six months or both.

Read in detail: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/policies,-guidelines-and-legislation/leaving-children-unattended

ACT

ACT government website states there is no actual law stating the age children can be left alone at home.

However, the law is clear that parents are responsible for their children’s safety.

There is a legal obligation for parents to make sure that their children are properly looked after.

Parents are expected to provide food, clothing, a place to live, safety and supervision (Family Law Act 1975).

  • Parents can be charged with an offense if children are left in a dangerous situation and are not fed, clothed or provided with accommodation (Crimes Act 1900).
  • Care and Protection (part of the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support) can remove children from situations where their immediate safety is in serious danger and there is no responsible adult or guardian present (Children and Young People Act 2008).
  • When a person under the age of 18 years (for example, an older brother, sister or teenage friend) cares for children, the question of negligence or liability could arise.

As a parent you may be held responsible for the carer, as well as your own children, if something goes wrong. For these reasons it is better that carers are adults (over the age of 18 years).

Read in detail: http://www.parentlink.act.gov.au/parenting-resources/parenting-guides/adult-issues/home-alone

Queensland

In Queensland if you leave a child under 12 years of age for an ‘unreasonable time’ without supervision you have committed a misdemeanour.

The Criminal Code (Section 364A) states:

  • A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum penalty is three years imprisonment.
  • Whether the time is unreasonable depends on all the relevant circumstances.

Read in detail: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/C/CriminCode.pdf

Western Australia

There is no specific law that states at what age you can leave children alone however the Western Australia Police or a Departmental Child Protection Worker can move a child to a safe place if the child is unaccompanied by a responsible adult and there is a risk to the child’s well being. (Children and Community Services Act 2004)

Read in detail: https://www.slp.wa.gov.au/pco/prod/FileStore.nsf/Documents/MRDocument:29635P/$FILE/Children%20and%20Community%20Services%20Act%202004%20-%20[04-f0-02].pdf?OpenElement

South Australia

There is no law stating an age at which children can or cannot be left alone.

There is a legal duty for parents to make sure their children are properly looked after.

  • Parents are expected to provide food, clothing, a place to live, safety and supervision (Family Law Act).
  • Parents can be charged with an offence if children are left in a dangerous situation and are not fed, clothed or provided with somewhere to live (Criminal Law Consolidation Act).
  • The Police or Families SA (part of the Department for Education and Child Development) can remove children from situations where their safety is in serious danger and there is no guardian present (Children’s Protection Act).

Read in detail: http://www.parenting.sa.gov.au/pegs/peg32.pdf

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory (NT) there is no law that tells you the age your child needs to be before you can leave them at home alone.

Under the law parents are responsible for caring for their child and keeping them safe.

  • Parents can be charged with an offence if children are left alone in a dangerous situation and are not fed, clothed or provided with adequate shelter.
  • The police or Department of Children and Families can remove a child from situations where there is a danger to their health or safety.

Read in detail: https://nt.gov.au/emergency/child-safety/leaving-your-child-home-alone

Tasmania

The Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 states the following:

  • A person who has the control or charge of a child must not leave the child without making reasonable provision for the child’s supervision and care for a time which is unreasonable.
  • The penalty is a fine not exceeding 15 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or both.

Read in detail: http://www.thelaw.tas.gov.au/tocview/index.w3p;cond=;doc_id=28%2B%2B1997%2BAT%40EN%2B20150724140000;histon=;prompt=;rec=;term=

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