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Confidentiality of Proceedings

Closed court

Section 24 of the Youth Court Act 1993 (SA) provides that proceedings in the Youth Court are held in closed court and no person may be present at any sitting of the Court except for:

  • officers of the Court [see s 24(a)];
  • officers or employees of the administrative unit responsible for assisting a Minister in the administration of the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016 (SA) [see s 24(ab)];
  • officers or employees of the administrative unit responsible for the administration of the Family and Community Services Act 1972 (SA) [see s 24(b)];
  • parties to the proceedings and their legal representatives [see s 24(c)];
  • witnesses while giving evidence or where permitted by the Court to remain in the Court [see s 24(d)];
  • a guardian of the child or youth to whom the proceedings relate, and if the proceedings relate to an offence or alleged offence, an adult nominated by the youth who has had a close association with the youth or who has been counselling, advising or aiding the youth [see ss 24(e) and 24(f)(iii)];
  • where the proceedings relate to an offence or alleged offence: an alleged victim of the offence and a person chosen by the victim to provide them with support, including where the proceedings also relate to other alleged offences [see ss 24(f)(i) and 24(1a)];
  • a genuine representative of the news media [see s 24(f)(ii)];
  • any other persons authorised by the Court to be present [see s 24(h)].

The Court may exclude any of the persons listed above where the Court considers it necessary to do so in the interests of the proper administration of justice [see s 24(2)].

Reporting restrictions on court proceedings

Section 63C of the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) prohibits the publication of court proceedings by radio, television, newspaper or in any way where a child or youth is alleged to have committed an offence where:

  • the Court has prohibited such publication [see s 63C(1)(a)]; or
  • the report identifies the child or youth, or contains information tending to identify the child or youth [see s 63C(1)(b)(i)]; or
  • the report reveals the name, address, school, or includes any particulars, picture or film that may lead to the identification of a child or youth involved in the court proceedings (whether as a party or a witness) [see s 63C(1)(b)(ii)].

The Court may permit the publication of particulars, pictures or films that would otherwise be suppressed from publication in accordance with section 63C(1)(b) on such conditions as it thinks fit [see s 63C(2) Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA)].

It is an offence to contravene section 63C(1), or a condition imposed under section 63C(2). The maximum penalty is a fine of $10,000 [see s 63C(3)].

Applying for a suppression order

Section 63C of the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) invests the Court with power to make suppression orders, and in so doing the Court must have regard to the object of section 3(1) of the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) which is:

‘ to secure for youths who offend against the criminal law the care, correction and guidance necessary for their development into responsible and useful members of the community and the proper realisation of their potential’ [see R v Jones [2008] SASC 150] .

Different considerations apply for a suppression order in accordance with section 63C, which focuses on the youth, compared to a suppression order in accordance with section 69A of the Evidence Act 1929 (SA), which focuses on the proper administration of justice and undue hardship to a victim, witness or child.

SUPPRESSION ORDERS

Suppression orders can be sought to prohibit the reporting of any material which could prejudice a fair trial at a later stage, but it is advisable for duty solicitors to arrange to brief such applications to a senior practitioner immediately.

A duty solicitor may need to apply to the Court for an order suppressing the publication of material which may not directly tend to identify the youth, but may nonetheless be prejudicial to the objects of the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA), or to the proper administration of justice in accordance with section 69A of the Evidence Act 1929 (SA). Some examples are:

  • Allegations of prior offending;
  • Allegations of admissions purportedly made to police;
  • Reference to psychiatric, psychological or medical disorders which may be made within reports ordered by or submitted to the Court;
  • Reference to family, school, employment or racial background.

Reporting restrictions on police cautions and family conferences

It is an offence to publish, by radio, television, newspaper or in any other way, a report of any action or proceeding taken against a youth by a police officer or family conference where the report identifies the youth or contains information tending to identify the youth, or reveals the name, address or school, or contains particulars, or picture or film that may lead to the identification of any youth concerned in the action or proceeding [see Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) ss 13(1)(a) and 13(1)(b)].

In similar fashion, it is an offence to publish information which would identify the victim or any other person involved in an action or proceeding (other than a person involved in an official capacity) without the consent of the person [see Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) s 13(1)(c)]. A person employed or engaged in the administration of the Act must not divulge information about a youth against whom any action or proceeding is taken, except in the course of his or her official function, or where the information is given to a person in accordance with a court order [see ss 13(2) and 13(1f)(a)]. The maximum penalty for these offences is a fine of $10,000 [see s 13(3)].

Confidentiality of Proceedings  :  Last Revised: Mon May 21st 2012