Autism Spectrum


leaving school and leading your own life

Legal matters


None of us want to think that our sons or daughters will be in need of legal support.

Hopefully they will get through these years without us having to consult a lawyer or be involved in the legal system at all.

However, forewarned is forearmed, so we have some information which may be useful.

There are some supports available if young people have any issues with the law, and it’s best that we as parents are aware of these.

There are also some matters about wills and guardianship that we may not want to think about, but, really, it’s better to know what’s what.


Disability Law

The Australian Centre for Disability Law promotes the human and legal rights of people with disability and their supporters.

On their website you can read about Australian laws against disability discrimination law.



Supports in the Court System

If the young person you care for does get into any trouble with the law, there are some safeguards in place within the criminal justice system.


Criminal Justice Support Network

The Criminal Justice Support Network can organise support for people with intellectual disabilities who have any type of interaction with criminal law courts.

CJSN can also provide support at police stations. They provide support for victims, witnesses and defendants.


Youth on track

Youth on Track is a personalised service that provides support and case management with the aim of reducing reoffending.


Disclosure Card

Some families have found it helpful to make a small card which their young person can carry around with them.

Then if they find themselves in any difficult situation, unsure what to do, they can show the card to an adult or person in authority. A card could read:

‘I am a young person with autism spectrum disorder. My behaviour or reactions may seem unusual, and I may find it difficult to explain events that have happened. Please contact my family on these numbers and they will assist.’



In most families where a young person with autism is not able to make decisions for themselves, the family informally takes the role of decision maker.

This is very normal and is in the best interests of the young person.

As young people mature and develop, they are able to make more decisions independently, depending on their circumstances and ability.

Sometimes this informal decision making breaks down, or there may be conflict where a young person and their family disagree.

In NSW, the Guardianship Tribunal can appoint guardians for people over the age of 16 year, where the young person has a decision-making disability and is not able to manage themselves.

The guardian appointed can be a family member, other person or the NSW Public Guardian.

You can read all the ins and outs of this on the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal website.


Writing Your Will

Families of children and young people with any sort of disability tend to be all too aware that they need to have a secure will in place, just in case.

There’s a good NSW government website called Planning Ahead Tools which explains some the things you need to think about.

Special disability trusts can be set up by family members to plan for the future care and accommodation needs of a person with a severe disability.

Read more about Special Disability Trusts here.

This is a complex area and it is advised that you discuss with a professional with expertise in these matters.

Wills are really complicated and I was glad that we found a specialist who knew all about the many issues faced by families who have a child with special needs.


It was complicated to set up but the peace of mind we have now made it so worthwhile.

Anne Clement, mother of James