Children 16-18 years of age

A child aged 16 years or older is deemed competent to give consent under the Family Law Reform Act 1969.

Parental consent to treatment is not necessary provided the child is competent. You should however seek to persuade them to involve their family, unless you believe that it is not in their best interests to do so.

Should a competent child ask you to keep their confidence, you must do so, unless you can justify disclosure on the grounds that you have reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm.

If the 16 year (or older) child is competent but refuses to consent to treatment that you deem is necessary and is in the child’s best interests, then you can obtain valid consent from a competent adult who has parental responsibility. The adult in this regard is lawfully over-ruling the wishes of the child. You only need consent from one competent adult who has parental responsibility (even if the other(s) with parental responsibility refuse to give consent). 

If neither the competent child or any competent adult who has parental responsibility will give consent to treatment, and you still deem the treatment necessary and in the best interests of the child, then obtain consent from the courts, or in the rare case of a life threatening emergency- treat under the doctrine of necessity.

In light of the above, competent 16 year olds (or older) can consent using the ordinary adult consent forms.

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