Children's Court of Western Australia began under the State Children's Act 1907 and operated within the City of Perth. After amendments, the Court was allowed to sit in the metropolitan area. The Perth Children's Court became known as the Children's Court of WA when the Children's Court of WA Act 1988 was passed. The Perth Children's Court is located at 160 Pier Street in Perth; however, children's court cases are also heard in other courthouses throughout the State. The Children's Court hears criminal matters involving young people (aged 10 to 17 years) who are accused of committing offences. If a young person turns 18 after the date of the alleged offence, he or she will still appear before the Children's Court. The Court also deals with protection and care applications for children under the age of 18 years. Witnesses who appear before the Court can be of any age.
Writing in The Cyclopedia of Western Australia in 1912, five years after the establishment of the Children's Court, JS Battye explained why a separate court had been set up for young offenders and matters affecting young people: 'Those children who do wrong are charged in a separate Court from which all but those actually engaged in the case are excluded, and thus the demoralising effects of a public exhibition are avoided.' (Vol 1, p. 504). According to the Western Mail in 1908, this provision elevated 'the moral tone of the country'.
To this day, the practice of protecting children's reputations has continued in the court, giving young people the chance to enter their adult lives without the notoriety of juvenile convictions.
The way young people are disciplined by the courts has changed over time. In August 1928 it was reported that the Police Magistrate at Fremantle ordered a 15 year old boy to be 'birched'. Apparently, it was not possible to find
anyone in the public service who was willing to carry out this order, though some other citizens had volunteered for the task (Chate, p.41).
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Care of the Children', Western Mail, Charles Harper, J.W. Hackett, James Gibey, for the Western mail office, Perth, 25 January 1908, p. 39, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37573895; Battye, JS, The Cyclopedia of Western Australia (1912), Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, 1985. Vol 1, p.504.; Chate, A.H; Graham, Bruce; Oakley, Glenda, Date it!: a Western Australian chronology to 1929, Friends of the Battye Library (Inc.), Northbridge, Western Australia, 1991. p. 41..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 December 2011, Last modified: 5 November 2014