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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 1082..


Parents-court summonses

(Question No 42)

Mr Cornwell asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 19 February 2002:

In relation to court summons of parents under the Children and Young People Act 1999:

(1) Are local news reports (15 January) correct in saying that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of a mother of a 15 year old alleged firebug for her failure to appear at Court.

(2) Is it true that, as reported in the same newspaper on 16 January, the arrest warrant against the mother was withdrawn despite her continued failure to appear at Court.

(3) What is the purpose of including such penalties in the Children and Young People Act 1999 if they are not to be enforced.

(4) Following this precedent, how will subsequent failures to appear in Court be treated.

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) No. On 14 January 2002, the then Children's Court Magistrate, Shane Madden, ordered that a warrant be issued to bring the mother of a 15 year old person before the court.

However, as the court could not confirm that the mother was aware of the proceedings, no warrant was actually issued. Instead, with Mr Madden's consent, the court issued a notice to the mother explaining the provisions of section 60 of the Children and Young Persons Act. Police attempted to serve the notice on the mother but could not find her.

(2) No. No warrant was issued.

(3) It is not an offence for a parent to fail to appear at a hearing involving his or her child before the Children's Court. Therefore there is no penalty for such non-appearance to enforce.

(4) The Children's Court is not bound by the rules of precedent to follow its own decisions and will deal with subsequent failures to appear on a case by case basis. It must be left to the court to assess each case on its merits, and to act as it considers appropriate.


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