4.1 When the state interacts with families for the protection, assistance and control of children, it does so through its legal processes. All children are involved with some legal processes through their participation at school, in employment and in consumer transactions. On the other hand, a significant percentage of children have explicit, direct and extensive contact with formal legal processes at the point of this interaction between the state and the family, particularly in care and protection and juvenile justice proceedings. The bulk of the Inquiry’s efforts has been concentrated on children’s involvement in formal legal processes.

4.2 Although children are involved with the state’s legal processes, they are not always able to participate in them. Some children are too young to participate formally, and others, although old enough to understand and take part in the process, may not want to participate. Other children may be unaware of legal services and processes or may not have the skills and confidence necessary to fill out forms, seek information, give evidence and otherwise participate in legal processes. The legal process itself may discourage or inhibit participation by children.