5.5 Youth Court

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The Youth Court is part of the District Court but its proceedings are not open to the public. Media are entitled, and welcome, to attend Youth Court proceedings. Specific conditions apply when reporting on Youth Court proceedings as outlined below.

Restrictions on reporting

Under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 (CYPF Act) you cannot publish any report of proceedings without the permission of the presiding judge.

The Youth Court is keen to adopt an open approach to publication and will generally take the least restrictive approach necessary, consistent with the principles of the Act and subject to the interests of a fair trial. It should be noted that, in making this decision, the welfare and interests of the young person shall be the first and paramount consideration (section 6 of the CYPF Act).

Requests to publish a report of proceedings should be made in writing to the registrar before the case starts. If necessary, you can make an oral request in court when the case is first called, or seek leave at the completion of the case.

In considering a request to report on proceedings, the Youth Court judge may seek the views of the youth advocate, the Police and other relevant parties before making a decision.

If leave is given to publish, there are certain matters under section 438(3) of the CYPF Act which are prohibited from publication. You may not publish, nor does a judge have the discretion to allow you to publish:

  • the name of the young person
  • the names of the parents or guardians or any person having care of the young person
  • the name of any school the young person is, or was, attending
  • any other name or particulars likely to lead to the identification of the young person or of any school that the young person is, or was, attending
  • other information that could lead to the identification of the young person or their parents.

In some cases leave to publish may be subject to further conditions as specified by the judge.

It is only in rare cases that leave to publish will be refused, perhaps to protect witnesses who may be later giving evidence in trials in the District or High Court, or to ensure that a fair trial is not prejudiced.

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Family group conferences

The CYPF Act prohibits the publication of any particulars that could lead to the identification of a person who was the subject of, or a participant in, a family group conference.

It may be possible to report on what was agreed as part of the family group conference and discussed in court, unless the publication might prejudice the treatment or rehabilitation of the young person or otherwise compromise the principles or provisions of the Act. You should check with the judge involved if you want to report on this aspect of the family group conference.

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Identification

As a media representative coming into a Youth Court to cover proceedings, or when you make an enquiry of court staff, you may be required to provide professional identification to confirm that you are representing a media organisation (see 4.1 for more information).

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