Law for young people fact sheet

What the law calls you

If you are under 18 years of age the following legal terms may be used to describe you: a child, a minor, a youth or a young person. The term young person is probably the best to use.

Going to school

Currently you have to go to school until you turn 17. In 2020 all Tasmanian students have to participate in education and training until they complete Year 12, attain a Certificate III, or turn 18 years of age (whichever comes first). If you have finished Year 10 you can get an apprenticeship or traineeship under a training contract as one of the education and training participation options. If you haven’t met the school leaving requirements you cannot work for an employer during education and training hours unless an ‘Application for Part-time Attendance' or ‘Application for Exemption from Attending School’ is completed and approved in advance.

Getting a job

You can get a job and work outside of your school or  training hours. Generally there is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work in Tasmania but there are age restrictions for certain types of work. For example , you must be 18 years of age to work behind a bar.

Drinking and smoking

You must be 18 years of age to drink alcohol on licensed premises. In some circumstances it may be legal to consume alcohol in a responsible manner on private property under the supervision of a responsible guardian. For more details please see the Tasmania Police website’s Youth and Alcohol Fact sheet. You must also be 18 years of age to smoke or use any tobacco product or purchase alcohol or any tobacco product.


It is a crime for anyone to have sex with you if you are under the age of 17 years. It is a defence if the person believed on reasonable grounds that you were over 17 years of age. Your consent to sex will be a defence if you were 15 or older and the other person was not more than 5 years older than you, or you were 12 or older and the other person was not more than 3 years older than you were. See the fact sheet on age of consent for sex for further information.

Tattoos and body piercings

You need to be 18 to get a tattoo and provide ID if requested. If you are 16 or older, you can have a body piercing such as ears, eyebrows or belly button without a guardian present. See the fact sheet on tattoos, piercing and body modifications for further information.

Driving or riding a motor bike

You are not allowed to drive a motor vehicle or ride a motor bike without a licence. You must be 16 years of age before you can get a learner's licence. As a learner, once you have passed a driving test you may be granted a provisional licence.

Being part of the family

There are laws that protect young people from being physically, sexually or emotionally abused, and also from being neglected by family members or other people. If you are being abused, tell someone - contact one of the agencies listed below or tell a teacher or guidance officer at school. Your parents are entitled to lay down the ground rules in their home. If you and your parents are having hassles over the rules, you can try to sort them out through family mediation. If your parents are separated or divorced, you might be caught in the middle. Your wishes in these situations are important and will be taken into account if the matter ever goes to court.

You and the police

If a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you may have committed an offence and intends to interview you or ask you any investigatory questions, this should be done in the presence of your parent or guardian or another responsible adult. An exception to this is if you are 17 years old and the offences the police have reasonable cause to suspect you have committed are in connection with traffic laws.

If you are charged with an offence, you will usually be summoned to Court. This means being given or sent a notice with the address, date and time of Court.

A police officer may arrest you instead of giving or sending you a summons if he or she believes the offence is serious enough and if the arrest:

  • is necessary to prevent you from continuing or repeating the offence;
  • makes it easier to get a restraint order against you;
  • prevents the concealing, loss or destroying of evidence relating to the offence; and
  • is to ensure that you will appear before the Court, if it is unlikely you will appear if given a summons.

For more information see the fact sheet: Arrest and Questioning .

Going to court

See the fact sheet: Going to the Magistrates Court and if you are attending the Magistrates Court in Hobart see Hobart Volunteer Court Support Scheme on the Hobart Community Legal Service website.

Last updated: 14-July-2020