Important cases — Identification of children in the media

[3-1240] Burton v DPP [2022] NSWCA 242

Last reviewed: June 2024

Care Act s 105 — appellants argue s 105 invalid for burdening the implied constitutional freedom of communication on political and government matters — prohibition in s 105 only applies when there is some connection in the publication or broadcast between identification of the child/young person and pending, contemplated or completed proceedings, non-court proceedings or a relevant report — implicit that the ability of a relevant child or young person to consent to publication or broadcast does not cease upon them turning 18 — constitutional freedom is burdened insofar as people are prohibited from publicly protesting or discussing the removal of particular children by governmental action — s 105 is not invalid for breach of implied freedom — appeal dismissed.

Burton v DPP (NSW) [2021] NSWSC 1230

Application for a declaration that magistrate erred in determining s 105 Care Act was not constitutionally invalid — law prohibits publication of names of children and young persons connected with care proceedings — applicants allege s 105 breaches implied freedom of political communication — Comcare v Banerji (2019) 267 CLR 373 applied — slight burden on political communication made out — legitimate protective function of s 105 made out as there is high likelihood of irreparable damage due to inherently sensitive subject matter — burden consequently found to be justified — section is reasonably appropriate and adapted to advance its legitimate protective purpose — section is suitable, necessary, and adequate in its balance — held to be constitutionally valid — summons dismissed — appeal Burton v DPP [2022] NSWCA 242 dismissed.

Burton v DPP (2019) 100 NSWLR 734

Appeal of dismissal of proceedings — non-publication order — ss 7, 11, 12 Court Suppression and Non-Publication Orders Act 1998 — the order of the Children’s Court was not an interim order and therefore did require the place or period of its operation to be specified — leave to appeal granted.

AB (a pseudonym) v R (No 3) (2019) 97 NSWLR 1046

Respondent pleaded guilty to historic sex offences committed when he was a child — primary judge ordered non-publication and suppression of respondent’s name under s 8 Court Suppression and Non-publication Orders Act 2010 — suppression and non-publication orders revoked on appeal — appeal against decision not to make non-publication order — court materially misconstrued s 8(1)(c) Court Suppression and Non-Publication Orders Act by adopting probable harm test — calculus of risk approach adopted — evidence of risk of physical harm to applicant — evidence of significant psychological harm to applicant and applicant’s family — circumstances of misreporting by media and threats to applicant — appeal allowed, non-publication order made under s 8(1)(c).

Secretary, DFaCS v Smith (2017) 95 NSWLR 597

Child under parental responsibility of the Minister and in foster care — court engaged a “balancing exercise” of child’s interest — paramount interest of child cannot be raised on appeal — construction of strict liability offence for publication of child’s name contrary to s 105 Care Act — primary judge’s construction not arguably wrong — exercise of discretion in refusing to grant injunction arguably miscarried — leave to appeal refused.