Shine Lawyers Main Logo

Kids ready to walk to school? Read these tips for walking to school safely

3 minute read

Motor vehicle accident

Like many parents, you may be concerned about whether your children will be safe on their walk to and from school. Figures from the Heart Foundation’s LiveLighter campaign showed that while over 50% of parents believe it’s important for kids to be able to walk to school unsupervised, fewer than a third believe it’s safe.  

Nearly a quarter of parents surveyed said a lack of safe routes and fears for their personal safety were reasons their children do not walk or ride a bike to school. 

While walking to school is beneficial, how can you ensure you and your kids go about it safely and legally? Here we unpack what the legal age is in your state and road safety tips that they should follow if they do walk to school. 

What's the legal age for a child to walk to school alone? 

The laws around age limits for kids walking to school, can be interpreted in a few different ways. The laws on children’s supervision in Australia also vary by state. However, the key point to remember when interpreting the laws are, is it a reasonable set of circumstances?. If a child is left unsupervised to walk to school, the parent will only have broken a law if the journey is unreasonable. 

When interpreting what’s reasonable in terms of at what age a kid can walk to school, a magistrate would consider factors like: 

  • The age of the child 

  • How far the child is travelling 

  • Is the route familiar to the child 

  • The safety level of the neighbourhood 

  • The time the child is leaving home to travel to school 

Considering all these factors together, they would then be able to decide whether a particular child is old enough to walk to school alone. For example, a child leaving to walk to school at 6am would be unsupervised for much longer than a child who leaves for school at 8am – and this would be more likely to be considered unreasonable.  

Let’s see how the law differs for each state.  

Legal age to walk to school alone in Queensland 

In Queensland, section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour.” 

Again, the key factor here is what is considered an “unreasonable” amount of time. And this would be decided by looking at the factors listed above. 

Legal age to walk to school alone in Victoria 

In Victoria, section 494 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 states, “A person who has the control or charge of a child must not leave the child without making reasonable provision for the child's supervision and care for a time which is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case." 

Like Queensland, a magistrate would consider how unreasonable the time left unsupervised is by reference to factors like the child’s age and the journey’s length. 

Legal age to walk to school in New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory 

Besides Queensland and Victoria, there are no specific laws which dictate the age that children can walk to school alone in these states. 

That’s not to say parents aren’t accountable if their child is harmed. Parents owe a duty of care to their children, meaning they’re responsible for keeping them safe. If a child is injured walking to school in unreasonable circumstances, whether due to factors like their age, the length of the journey or the safety of the route they are walking, their parents could face legal consequences. 

Australia’s ‘no child left behind’ policy 

If you’re worried about your child walking to and from school alone, buses are an excellent alternative, particularly since the introduction of the ‘no child left behind policy’. Under this policy, bus drivers in Australia must allow children on board their bus to ensure their safety regardless of whether they have money for a fare.  

This policy was introduced after Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe was abducted in 2003 after a bus did not stop for him. The policy means that your child may well have the option of jumping on a bus (even if they don’t have money for the bus fare) if they are ever worried about their safety travelling to and from school alone. 

So, at what age can a kid walk to school alone? 

There’s no one age at which children should walk to school. Every child is different — some mature earlier and may be comfortable walking to school alone at eight years old. Others may only be ready a few years later. 

When considering the right age for your child, think about the area in which they’d be walking to school. Different neighbourhoods and different commutes pose different levels of risk. A walk through a busy city could require more pedestrian safety understanding and situational awareness than one through the suburbs. 

Also consider your child’s understanding of how to keep safe while walking to and from school. Do they have all the pedestrian safety facts? If not, make sure to teach them all about safety for pedestrians before allowing them to walk on their own.   

10 road safety rules for pedestrians 

Pedestrian safety in Australia is often overlooked when we’re teaching our kids about how to walk to school. Often, we think about ‘stranger danger’. But there were 439 child pedestrian fatalities across Australia between 2001 and 2019. So, it’s vital that we teach our kids how to be safe when walking as well. Here are 10 road safety rules for pedestrians that we should be teaching our kids.  

  1. Walk confidently 

  2. Pay attention to what’s going on around you 

  3. Don’t wear headphones, as they may stop you from hearing danger approaching 

  4. Always walk on footpaths or nature strips where possible 

  5. If you must walk on the road, walk facing oncoming traffic 

  6. Cross the road at marked pedestrian crossings or traffic signals 

  7. Pedestrian crossing safety is vital. Always cross roads with the proper pedestrian light (and never against a red light) to avoid being in a pedestrian accident

  8. If there is no crossing within 20m, cross the road by the shortest and safest route 

  9. Always follow all traffic instructions from a police officer 

  10. Obey all ‘no pedestrian’ signs.  

Other helpful tips to keep your kids safe include: 

  • Help your children plan a safe route to and from school. Finding an easy way to get to school and home again with good crossings and as little traffic as possible will help keep them safe.  

  • Teach them to avoid taking shortcuts. They should always stick to the planned route. 

  • Help them to learn to watch out for cars at every driveway and intersection. 

  • Reiterate that they should never accept rides from strangers. 

  • Teach them about car park pedestrian safety. Don't cut through parked cars. Instead, they should always walk in designated pedestrian areas.  

Shine Lawyers — here to help 

If your loved one has been injured while walking to school, get in touch. Shine Lawyers’ team of expert compensation lawyers work on a No Win No Fee basis* and can help you receive the compensation you and your family are entitled to. 

*Conditions apply 

Back to Resources

Do you have a claim?  

We’re here to make the claims process as simple and stress-free as possible.

Back to top


Shine Lawyers acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, waterways and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.

Shine Lawyers Pty Ltd | ABN 86 134 702 757

Copyright 2024 Shine Lawyers. All Rights Reserved