One of the reasons we have such a wonderful lifestyle in Australia is due to our representative democracy, the separation of powers, and our respect for the rule of law. We have a lot of laws in Australia and as a result, society runs smoothly.
In being granted a visa to study in Australia, you signed a document (Australian Values Statement Temporary) agreeing to respect Australian values and obey the laws of Australia for the duration of your stay. Failure to comply with the laws of this land (including State and Territory laws) could result in a fine or the cancellation of your visa and possible deportation back home. If you are convicted of a serious crime, it could result in imprisonment. Nobody wants this to happen!
You can find a comprehensive outline of Australian laws online.
Your most basic right is to be considered innocent until proven guilty in court. If you are arrested, you need not answer any police questions or make any statement- unless it is a traffic offence. Nor are you obliged to hand over your passport.
If you are arrested, the police should allow you to make one phone call. You also have a right to ask for bail. The police cannot threaten or injure you, or force you to go with them unless it is an arrest. It is wise to cooperate with the police; if you remain polite and calm, you can explain the position clearly.
Do not attempt to bribe anyone, especially a policeman.
Make sure you understand any agreement you make when you sign for purchases including coupons you cut out from magazines, any hire-purchases or rentals.
REMEMBER: ALWAYS ASK FOR A RECEIPT FOR ANY PAYMENT MADE!
Child Protection Laws
In Australia, child protection is the responsibility of the community services departments in each State and Territory. Departments are responsible for the protection of children who have been abused or neglected, or whose parents cannot provide adequate care or protection for them. Information about the States and Territories responsible for protecting children is provided by the National Child Protection Clearinghouse.
Free and confidential legal advice services in ACT
The Legal Aid Commission of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is established under the Legal Aid Act 1977. The aim of the Commission is to work to inform people of their legal rights and obligations and to improve their access to the justice system. The ACT Legal Aid Office is able to provide one free consultation to students. Appointments can be made through the International Student Adviser. The Legal Aid office may not represent you in Court but you will receive free advice on what to do about your matter.
Woden Office Address: PA Chambers 18 Corinna Street Woden ACT 2606
The office at Woden provides free legal advice. Appointments can be made by telephoning (02) 6243 3471.
Legal Aid Helpline
Help with legal problems is available through the Legal Aid Helpline on 1300 654 314 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
The After Hours Legal Aid Helpline for people in custody or other urgent matters, is available from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Mondays to Thursdays, and 6 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Monday on 0429 440 084.
Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit
The Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit is located at the Magistrates Court. Telephone (02) 6207 1874 for information and appointments.
Youth Law Centre
The Youth Law Centre (YLC) is a free and confidential legal advice and referral service for young people aged between 12 - 25. The Centre operates a drop-in centre in Civic which is open each weekday afternoon between 1-5pm. The YLC also provides assistance over the phone and by e-mail.
The YLC provides one-off advice and assistance in a wide range of areas, including:
- car accidents
- consumer issues
- residential tenancy
- criminal matters
- traffic offences
- employment and apprenticeships
- discrimination, and
- protection orders.
Other helpful Links:
Office for Children, Youth and Family Support
The Office for Children, Youth and Family Support works in partnership with the community to provide care and protection services to children and young people, and family and community support to meet the needs of the people of Canberra. In addition, the Office is responsible for youth justice services and the monitoring and licensing of children's services.
The Office for Children, Youth and Family Support contracts a range of services from the non-government sector to meet the needs of young people. These services include:
- Youth Centres
- Youth Support Services
- Youth development programs and
- Youth Plan and Sector development
Care and Protection services are responsible for facilitating coordination across government for the care and protection of children and young people. Care and Protection services include three Regional Offices and an After Hours service, who provide a continuum of service delivery to children and young people considered 'at risk' of serious harm.
Ph: 33 427
Website: Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services ACT
Other non-profit legal services in the ACT
- Consumer Law Centre; phone 02 6257 1788
- Disability Discrimination Legal Service; phone 02 6247 2018
- Law Society of the ACT (Legal Advice Bureau); phone 02 6247 5700
- Night Time Legal Advice Service; phone 02 6247 2177 or 1800 445 665 (outside Canberra)
- Tenants Advice Service; phone 02 6247 2011
- Welfare Rights and Legal Centre; phone 02 6247 2177
- Women's Legal Centre ACT & Region; phone 02 6257 4499 or 1800 634 669
- Fair Work Ombudsman; phone 1300 724 200