The Care and Protection of Children Amendment Act 2019 and the Youth Justice and Related Legislation Amendment Act 2019 officially commenced on March 2nd, 2020.
These amendments were passed by the Legislative Assembly on 6 August 2019 and 17 September 2019 (respectively).
The changes implement 23 recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.
The changes to sections 49 and 50 of the Youth Justice Act 2007 are of relevance to the media as they relate to closed court proceedings and the restriction on publication of court material for young people.
The changes mean that Youth Court proceedings will now be closed to the public, but that a genuine representative of the news media is permitted to be present during the proceedings.
The restriction on the publication of information about youth justice proceedings extends to the information that could lead to the identification of the young person.
It is now an offence to publish a report or other information containing particulars likely to lead to the identification of:
- the particular venue of the Court in which the proceeding was heard;
- the youth or other party to the proceeding; or
- a witness in the proceeding.
It is also an offence to publish particulars likely to lead to the identification, in relation to a person, including the following:
- the person’s name;
- the names of any relative of the person or any other person having the care of the person;
- in the case of an Aboriginal person – a member of the person’s community;
- the name or address of any place of residence of the person, or the locality in which the residence is situated; or
- the name or address of any place of education, training or employment attended by the person, or the locality in which the place is situated.
Media are encouraged to become familiar with the legislation and inform their legal representatives of the changes.
Media enquiries concerning the Youth Justice Court can be directed to the NT Courts and Tribunals public relations officer Xavier La Canna via telephone on 0447 286 342.