The courts, whether the Youth Court or the Family Law Courts, will decide matters concerning where children and young people live and in whose care, guided by the best interests of the child or young person and principally the need to protect them from harm. Each case depends on its facts - especially on the attitudes of the parents, the maturity of the child, and such factors as satisfactory accommodation, education or employment and a lifestyle that the authorities regard as reasonable.
If a child or young person leaves home and their parent or guardian does not hear from them or know their whereabouts, they should file a missing persons report with police.
If a parent or guardian is concerned about a child or young person leaving home to live elsewhere, causing them to be at risk of harm, those concerns should be reported to the Department of Child Protection. See Notification.
A child under 15 years who has no fixed address or has been absent from school without satisfactory explanation is considered 'at risk' for the purposes of the Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA) [see s 6(2)(d) and (e)] and the Department for Child Protection has the power to investigate such reports, as well as any other reports suggesting a child or young person is at risk of harm. See Children and young people at risk.
The Department may intervene or take other measures to protect the child or young person. See Child Protection Restraining Orders and other measures.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.