What is The Legal Age For Babysitting in Australia?

Nanny sitting with child

Legal Age for Babysitting

Are you keen to babysit, but worried whether you're old enough? Babysitting is such a great 'first job'. It's important, however, to ensure you're the right age to babysit legally.

To help you, we've done the homework to find the relevant laws about the legal age for babysitting in states and territories around Australia.

Babysitters under 18 years of age are defined as a 'child'

A key fact that affects the legal age of babysitters is that any person under 18 years of age is considered a 'child' by law in Australia. So this explains how the law applies and who carries responsibility for babysitting. If you are a babysitter under 18 years of age you are considered a 'child'. In this case the parents (of the children being cared for) will be legally liable for whatever happens under your watch.

Legal Age to Babysit in Australia

There is no one law in Australia that says what is the legal age to babysit. Parents must use their judgement about what is reasonable when choosing a babysitter.

This decision should be based on factors including:

  • The family's circumstances (e.g., how many children, the ages of the children, whether the children have any special needs).
  • The age and maturity level of the babysitter (e.g., how experienced, skilled and capable you are).
  • Any other factors that might be relevant (e.g., what is the length of time the children are being babysat, the responsibilities of the role, do medications need to be dispensed, do any children have medical issues like anaphylaxis, is the home in a remote location).
Age to Babysit in Victoria

The Commission for Children and Young People (Victoria) states that there is no law in Victoria stating what age a babysitter needs to be. The parents must judge how suitable the babysitter is. Factors to consider include the babysitter's capacity, maturity and experience. This is in addition to the situational factors including the number and ages of the children being babysat and other relevant details (any special needs, health issues).

Age to Babysit in N.S.W.

There is no set age to be a babysitter in N.S.W. The Department of Families and Community Services recommends that babysitters are adults legally. i.e., 18 years and older. This is because if a person aged under 18 years of age babysits and something goes wrong, then the parents may be held responsible.

Age to Babysit in Qld

There is no law in Queensland about what is the legal age to babysit. As in other states, the parents (of the children being cared for) are legally responsible for their children's safety and welfare, in accordance with the Commonwealth Family Law Act. So the parents must use their judgement to select an appropriate babysitter to ensure children are well cared for.

Age to Babysit in S.A.

There is no legal minimum age to babysit in South Australia. Parents must make a reasonable decision based on the family's circumstances, the age and maturity of the babysitter and the children's details (e.g., the ages of the children being babysat, any special needs). The law does say that it is an offense to leave a child in a dangerous situation. If a person under 18 years of age babysits and something goes wrong, then the parents (of the children being cared for) are legally liable. The Criminal Law Consolidation Act (1935) states that parents can be charged with an offense if a child is put at risk, is not properly fed, clothed or accommodated.

Legal Age to Babysit Siblings

A common question is what is the legal age to babysit siblings? This is a very important question as families commonly call on older siblings to babysit. Often parents begin to trial leaving children home alone, under the supervision of the oldest sibling. Parents must be sure that the sibling in charge is mature and skilled enough to babysit. Parents will need to check that the oldest sibling can handle any situation well. This can sometimes be tricky due to sibling dynamics. So it's vital that parents use their judgement. Babysitters under 18 years of age are considered a 'child' and if something happens the parents are legally liable.

Parents' Legal Responsibilities

In all states and territories of Australia parents and guardians are legally responsible for their children. So if the babysitter they choose is not suitable then the parents will be held accountable.

If a person aged under 18 is babysitting and something goes wrong, the parents (of the children being babysat) will be held responsible. Even if the babysitter is a sibling or a close relative, this law still applies.

The Commonwealth Family Law Act states that parents and guardians are responsible for children's care, welfare and development. This includes things like safety, supervision, clothing, food and accommodation. Parents can be charged with an offense, or the children can be removed, if parents fail to comply.

In summary it's crucial for a babysitter to be the right age and maturity level to care properly for children.

Readiness to Babysit

Regardless of your age it's also important to consider whether you are ready to babysit. Sometimes, even at 18, you may need more time and experience to babysit well. Job readiness is just as important as your age on your birth certificate! Being ready to be a babysitter involves a range of skills, knowledge and characteristics. Check out our information sheet HERE for more details. In summary the key questions you should consider are:

  • Do I feel confident to have sole responsibility for children?
  • Do I have the right level of knowledge and skills to care for children of certain ages?
  • Can I manage the hours requested for this role - e.g., late nights?
  • Do I have an 'action plan' for any emergencies - e.g., fire, blackout, medical issue?
  • Do I have the right qualifications (e.g, First Aid Certificate) and checks (Working with Children Check)?
Find A Babysitter's Policy About Babysitters' Age

To promote child safety, Find A Babysitter has a policy that all carers listed on the site must be 18 years and older. We have chosen this minimum age to ensure that babysitters and nannies found through FAB are mature enough to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care.

Youth Employment Laws and Babysitting

The youth employment laws in each state will affect what age you can legally start to work. These laws vary by state and territory, but often restrict the type of job and the hours that you can work when you are under 15 years of age. In most states you must not work during school hours, unless you are of school leaving age. There are often rules about start times (e.g. not before 6am), finish times (not after 10pm), number of hours worked each day and week. In some cases a parent must provide written consent for a child under 15 to begin work.

FairWork Australia has helpful information about when you can start work in your state or territory.

Other Legal Requirements for Babysitting

In addition to considering your age, you must also comply with legal regulations for babysitters. If you are doing child-related work you need a Working with Children Check, no matter where you live in Australia. Employees of childcare services, commercial babysitting, nannying or child-minding services are required to have Working with Children Checks. Please see our handy guide about Working With Children Checks and Police Checks