Discussions about legal rights often concentrate on adults. However, the law also protects the rights of children in significant ways. It is important that you and your children are aware of their rights at law to ensure that these rights are respected at all times.
- Right to be Heard
Children have a right to be heard in all matters affecting them. In legal proceedings, child representatives must act on the child’s instructions unless the child is not competent to give instructions.
It is unlawful for educational authorities, whether private or public, to discriminate against students with disabilities. However, there is an exception to this rule if the services or facilities required by a student with a disability impose an ‘unjustifiable hardship’ on that educational authority. Enlivening this condition requires exceptional or dangerous conduct, such as protecting staff and other students from violent behaviour that may arise from a student’s disability.
Students also have a right to an education free from bullying. Every government school in New South Wales must have an Anti-Bullying Plan and schools have a responsibility to implement best practice programs to tackle bullying of all kinds, including cyberbullying.
Furthermore, public schools in New South Wales must follow the Department of Education’s policy for suspending or expelling a student. Students are entitled to procedural fairness in these decisions and possess a right to appeal. The suspension and expulsion policies of private schools must also abide by principles of procedural fairness.
Finally, schoolchildren’s privacy rights differ to those of adults, as the Department of Education’s Privacy Code of Practice allows the sharing of children’s personal information between schools, parents, guardians and caregivers in specified circumstances.
- Medical Treatment
At common law, children can consent to medical treatment if they fully understand the proposed treatment. Parents cannot invalidate their child’s consent, but a Court may. If a child is not competent to consent, parents may give consent unless it is a special medical procedure that requires Court authorisation.
If you have any questions or concerns about your children’s rights, call us on 8917 8700