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«May 2012 Am I old enough? Common legal issues for young people This booklet covers what you can and can’t do because of your age Am I old enough? ...»

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If you are a full-time secondary student who is under 19 and living with one or both of your parents, or with a guardian, you may not be eligible for Youth Allowance after 1 January 2012. Your parent or guardian may be eligible for an increase in their Family Tax Benefit Part A.

However, if you were receiving Youth Allowance on 31 December 2011 you may be able to choose to keep claiming Youth Allowance or to stop your Youth Allowance payments so that your parent or guardian can claim the increase in the family tax benefit. Your family might get more money from the increase in the family tax benefit. Contact Centrelink or use the online calculator on the Centrelink website to compare payments and work out what’s best for you. See ‘Where to get more help and information’ on page 32.

Everyone who gets Youth Allowance payments must meet certain rules that Centrelink makes. If you break these rules, Centrelink may not pay you.

In some cases, Centrelink may want you to agree to an Employment Pathway Plan, where you have to do certain activities each week, such as training, paid work experience, or voluntary work. If you don’t agree to a plan, or if you don’t stick to a plan that you’ve agreed to, Centrelink may not pay you. Get legal help. See ‘Where to get help’ on page 83.

If you’re sick and are temporarily unable to work, study or look for work, Centrelink may still pay you Youth Allowance. You have to get a medical certificate.

If you’re under 18 and you leave school before finishing VCE and you don’t plan on doing any further study or training, Centrelink may be unable to give you a payment. You may have to rely on your parents to support you unless you can find work. If you can’t live at home, stay at school or find the right study or training programs, ask to see the social worker at your local Centrelink office to talk about your options.

Call 131 021 to make an appointment.

Abstudy This is a type of payment for Koori and other Indigenous people who are studying. If you’re at primary school, you must be at least 14 years old for Centrelink to give you Abstudy. There’s no age limit for secondary school students.

Parenting Payment If you have a dependent child, Centrelink may give you a Parenting Payment.

Special Benefit payment If you’re in financial hardship and can’t get any other type of income support, Centrelink may be able to give you a payment called Special Benefit.

Disability Support Pension If you’re 16 or over and have a medical condition that is serious and stops you from working or studying, Centrelink may be able to give you the Disability Support Pension. Ask Centrelink how to apply. You will need a report from your doctor and you may also need to see a doctor from Centrelink.

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There can be problems if you don’t tell them. If you’re unsure whether the change will affect your Centrelink payments, get legal advice.

See ‘Where to get help’ on page 83.

Am I old enough?

Common legal issues for young people What if I disagree with a Centrelink decision?

Talk to the person who made the decision. If you’re still not happy, you can ask for an Authorised Review Officer to review the decision. If you still think the decision is wrong, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. This is free but you must appeal within three months if you want to get ‘back pay’.

You can appeal by:

• phoning the tribunal on 9954 0700 or 1800 011 140 (free call) • writing to the tribunal at GPO Box 9943 Melbourne 3001 • filling in an appeal form at your local Centrelink office.

Get legal advice before appealing. See ‘Where to get help’ on page 83.

Am I old enough to drive a car?

You need to get a learners permit (L-plates) and then a drivers licence (P-plates). You can get your L-plates when you turn 16 and your P-plates when you turn 18. Up until you’re 21 you need to be on your L-plates for at least 12 months before you get your P-plates.

Sometimes people under 18 can have a shorter learners permit period, for example, if the licence is essential for work or you live in a very isolated area. There are rules you need to follow. The penalties are

tough if you break the rules. The rules include things like:

• you can’t drink any alcohol and drive • you can’t drive if you’re affected by drugs (even if your doctor has prescribed the drugs) • you must carry your permit or licence with you at all times • you must register your car with VicRoads • when you’re on your L-plates you must always have a fully licensed driver with you when you drive.

What are graduated licences?

Graduated licences are two-stage licences for probationary licence drivers aged 18 to under 21. In the first stage, you get a P1 licence (red P-plate) for the first 12 months. In the second stage, you get a P2 licence (green P-plate) for three years. If you have a bad driving record, it takes longer to get to the P2 stage and then the full licence.

If you got your Ps before 1 July 2008, there are rules you have to

follow. These include:

• you must not drive certain types of high-powered vehicles known as ‘probationary prohibited vehicles’. Check with VicRoads about what these vehicles are. In some cases you can apply to VicRoads to drive these sorts of cars.

• you must not use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

If you got your Ps after 1 July 2008, rules apply:

• P1s must not use any mobile phone, hands-free or hand-held, or do any text messaging while driving • P1s can’t have more than one ‘peer passenger’ in their car. A ‘peer passenger’ is someone aged 16 to under 22 years old. But if you have brothers and sisters in this age group you can have them as passengers even if there are more than one.

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months before you can apply for a full licence. The length of time on P-plates depends on what kind of car licence you already have.

There are some other rules you need to follow. For example, for the first year of your licence, you can’t ride a motorbike with an engine bigger than 260cc or carry a pillion passenger (a pillion passenger is a someone who sits behind the driver). If you’re riding a motorbike or a bicycle, you must wear an approved helmet.

Am I old enough?

Common legal issues for young people What happens if I’m caught ‘hoon driving’?

'Hoon driving’ includes things like:

• deliberately skidding or not having proper control of the vehicle • giving off too much noise or smoke • excessive speeding • being a part of a speed trial or drag race • careless or dangerous driving (such as deliberate skidding or driving at very high speeds) • failing to stop when police tell or signal you to • repeated drink driving offences • repeated drug driving offences • repeatedly driving while disqualified.

The police can immobilise or take possession of your vehicle for up to 30 days if they believe it was used for hoon driving. If you keep doing hoon driving, police can ask the court to take your car away permanently, even if you were driving someone else’s car.

Am I old enough to vote?

You can register to vote when you turn 17 but you can’t vote until you’re

18. Once you’re 18, and if you’re an Australian citizen, you have to enrol and vote in state, federal and local government (council) elections. The government will fine you if you’re registered and don’t vote.

Do I need a passport?

You need a passport to travel outside of Australia. You can apply to the Australian Passport Office for a passport before you turn 18 (but only if your parents or guardian agree). If your parents or guardian can’t or won’t agree, there are steps you can take. Contact the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232.

You don’t need your parent’s or guardian’s consent (agreement) to get a passport if you’re married.

You can get passport applications from your local post office.

Making a Will You can make your Will as soon as you’re 18. A Will is a document that says who you want your money and belongings to go to if you die.

Your Will is only valid if you sign it and two other people witness you signing it. Get legal advice if you want to make a Will – see ‘Where to get help’ on page 83. Some agencies offer free Wills but check to see if they ask for a commission or payment from your estate (the assets of a dead person) after your death.

If you’re not yet 18, you can only make a Will if you’re married or plan to marry. The Will is only valid if you actually marry or if you have court approval.

Where to get more help and information Jobs and work  Fair Work Australia – if you’ve been unfairly dismissed, call them on 1300 799 675. If you want to make a complaint, you’ll need to do this within 14 days after your job has ended, so get help quickly.

 Fair Work Ombudsman – call the Fair Work Infoline 131 394 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au  Job Watch – 9662 1933, 1800 331 617 (country callers), email jobwatch@jobwatch.org.au or visit www.jobwatch.org.au  Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) helpline 1300 486 466 or visit www.actu.org.au/helpdesk/default.aspx  Victorian Trades Hall Council – if you’re a member of a union and want Becoming independent more information call them on 9659 3511  Business Victoria – for child employment permits 1800 287 287 (free call) or visit the ‘Workforce’ section of their website www.business.vic.gov.au  For tips on finding a job visit:

- www.myfuture.edu.au

- www.year12whatnext.gov.au

- www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au Am I old enough?

Common legal issues for young people Tax and banking  Australian Taxation Office – for information about getting a tax file number, starting your first job or the Australian tax system call 132 861 or visit www.ato.gov.au/youth  Financial Ombudsman Services – call free on 1300 780 808 or visit www.fos.org.au Renting and housing issues  Consumer Affairs Victoria – call 1300 558 181, visit www.consumer.vic.gov.au or drop in to their service centre located at 113 Exhibition St, Melbourne Victoria 3000  For complaints about real estate agents call the Estate Agent Resolution Service (EARS) on 1300 737 030  Kids Helpline – for emergency housing call 1800 551 800  Office of Housing – for emergency housing call 1300 650 172 or visit www.housing.vic.gov.au/home  Residential Tenancies Bond Authority – for tenancy bond issues call them on 1300 137 164, email rtba@justice.vic.gov.au or visit www.rtba.vic.gov.au  Tenants Union of Victoria – 9416 2577 or visit www.tuv.org.au  Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) – visit www.vcat.vic.gov.au and follow ‘Residential Tenancies’ link Centrelink and allowances  Centrelink’s Youth and Student Services – call 132 490 or visit www.centrelink.gov.au  Victoria Legal Aid Legal Help – call 9269 0120 or 1800 677 402 (country callers), Monday to Friday, 8.45 am to 5.15 pm  Social Security Rights Victoria – call 9416 1111 or 1800 094 164 (country callers) or visit www.ssrv.org.au Voting, driving and passports  Australian Electoral Commission – call 132 326 or visit www.aec.gov.au  Australian Passport Information Service – for information about passports call 131 232, email passports.australia@dfat.gov.au or visit www.passports.gov.au  VicRoads – call 131 171 or visit www.vicroads.vic.gov.au You might want a copy of our free booklet, Road to court, which is about traffic offences. For a copy call 9269 0223 or visit www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/publications

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This section is about the people you’re closest to and some of the things that can happen in these relationships. There are laws about relationships and about how people should treat each other. There are no laws about when you can start to have a relationship with someone else, but there are laws about when you can start to have sex.

Having sex is a big step. It’s important that you feel in control and make decisions that are right for you. You may want to get advice from someone you trust. If you’re thinking about having sex, talk to your doctor or family planning clinic about contraception and sexually transmissible infections.

If you’re not sure about your feelings or feel uncomfortable about how someone is treating you, you can talk to someone you trust or to a counsellor.

Sex and the law The law applies to sexual penetration, which includes anything that involves a penis touching a vagina, anus or mouth. It also includes putting an object or a part of the body into contact with a vagina or anus. The law also applies to touching a person in a sexual way, like touching another person’s vagina, penis, anus or breasts.

Am I old enough to have sex?

The law makes rules about sex and sexual touching. It says that if someone touches you sexually without your agreement (consent), this is unlawful and therefore a crime. This is known as a ‘sexual offence’ and is a very serious crime. Sexual offences can be committed by anyone, it doesn’t matter what their sexuality is. The law sets age limits for having sex to help protect you from other people taking advantage of you, especially people older than you.

Even if a person says they don’t know the rules about age limits, the police can still charge that person with committing a sexual offence. The police can also charge young people with sexual offences. Make sure you know the rules for your age – not knowing the law is no excuse.

Same-sex relationships and having sex The age of consent for same-sex relationships is the same as it is for heterosexual relationships. Schools must provide supportive environments that are respectful of students who are same-sex attracted or may be questioning their gender identity.

What are the age limits for having sex?

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What if I don’t want to have sex?

The law says that two people can’t have sex unless they both agree to it. If you don’t agree and someone threatens you or touches you sexually, that person is breaking the law. If someone has sex with you or touches you sexually when you’re asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol or drugs that you’re unable to agree, it’s still sexual assault.

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