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In Queensland you’re expected to live with your parents or legal guardians until you are 18—but there’s no law that says you must stay at home until then.
Once you turn 16, you won’t normally be forced to return home by the authorities as long as you’ve got a safe place to go and you can financially support yourself.
If you’re under 18 and leave home, the police and Child Safety may investigate the reasons why you left home. They can apply to the court for a child protection order if they think you’re in need of protection from harm.
Before leaving home or changing your living arrangements, you should get legal advice.
Moving out is a big decision. It's a good idea to talk to someone you trust and think about what it will mean. As a guide, you can start making decisions about your future and how to live your life when you understand what the decision involves and its consequences.
If you and your parents aren’t getting along there might be someone who can help you and your family talk things through. This could be another family member, a trusted friend or a trained counsellor.
Before you move out you should consider what personal items you’ll need to take with you, for example:
You might need another family member or a trusted friend to help you negotiate this with your parents.
When moving out, you should also be aware of the following legal requirements:
If you are under 18 and leave home, the authorities (eg the police and the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety)) may not force you to return home if you’ve got a safe place to go and you can financially support yourself.
When deciding whether to intervene the authorities will consider:
Centrelink benefits are usually only available once you turn 16 (if certain conditions are met). If you are under 16 they can be made available under special circumstances.
The police and Child Safety can investigate the reasons why you left home. If they think you’re in need of protection from harm or abuse they can make an application for a child protection order. This order will say where you should live.
There are laws to protect children and young people who aren’t being properly cared for, don’t have a safe place to live or are suffering harm (such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect).
If someone thinks you’re in need of protection they can contact Child Safety with their concerns. This could be anyone concerned about you. Some people, like doctors, nurses, teachers, police and child advocates with the Office of the Public Guardian are required by law to tell Child Safety if they suspect you have suffered significant harm, are suffering significant harm or at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm.
If Child Safety thinks you need protection they will make an application to the Childrens Court for a child protection order. This could include Child Safety being given responsibility of deciding where you should live. This could be—with your parents, another relative or a foster parent. If you’re under a child protection order and you want to change where you live you’ll need to talk to your child safety officer. You should get legal advice.
Parenting orders made by the family court no longer apply once you’ve turned 18, and you’re free to choose where you want to live.
If you’re under 18 and you want to change a parenting order you should get legal advice.
You may need legal advice if you:
We may provide legal advice on moving out of home, or other issues about your family situation.
The following organisations may be able to give legal advice:
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.
Lawmail is a free email legal advice service for people under 18.
Youth Advocacy Centre provides a community legal and social welfare service for young people up to 18 years.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.
These organisations may be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.
Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services – Child Safety is responsible for protecting children and young people from significant harm or who are at risk of significant harm, and whose parents cannot provide adequate care or protection for them.
Office of the Public Guardian is an independent body, working to protect the rights and interests of children and young people in out-of-home care (foster care, kinship care), residential care, youth detention and other supported accommodation.
Create is a not-for-profit organisation helping young people placed in out-of-home care, including young people unable to live with their parents and who may be living in foster care, with relatives or community, group homes or some other form of independent living.
ReachOut.com offers information for young people about dealing with family and other relationships, and learning to manage independence.