The first separate Youth or Children's Court in South Australia was established under the provisions of the State Children's Act 1895 which called for a separate room to be used for hearings or trials which involved children.
The Youth Court of South Australia was established under the Youth Court Act (SA) 1993 and hears matters in relation to criminal offending, child protection , adoption and surrogacy. It is made up of two branches – the Court (including the Registry) and the Conferencing Unit. The Court is presided over by the Senior Judge and the two units are administered by the manager of each branch.
The current Youth Court is a specialist court which deals with young offenders from the ages of 10 to 17. All major indictable trials, for example, aggravated serious criminal trespass, endangering life, etc, must be presided over by a Judge. Minor indictable offences, for example; non-aggravated serious criminal trespass, damage property, mark graffiti etc are presided over by a Magistrate.
The Law related to youth offending is governed by the Young Offenders Act 1993
The court hears matters in relation to criminal offending, child protection, adoption and surrogacy.
All Youth Court hearings are closed to the public. The Youth Court Act 1993 states that the only persons allowed into court are:
· Officers of the court
· Officers of the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion
· Parties to the proceedings and their legal representatives
· Witnesses while giving evidence
· A guardian of the child
· An alleged victim
· A genuine representative of the news media
Although the media are allowed into court, the Youth Court Act restricts reports of the proceedings so that nothing may be published which may lead to the identification of the youth.
The Conferencing Unit conducts family conferences for young offenders and family care meetings in the child protection area. Youth Court hearings are conducted in metropolitan Courts at (Elizabeth, Port Adelaide, Christies Beach) and regional courts. Family Conferences and Family Care Meetings are conducted throughout the State.