This page considers 'age' as an identity and as an area
of identity crime.
It covers -
discussion of age verification schemes and issues is here.
It is a commonplace that much social sorting is based
on categories of gender, class, ethnicity and age. In
everyday life much social interraction is founded on notions
of 'childhood' (or childhood and young adulthood), adulthood
and 'old age'.
The difference of a year or two can fundamentally affect
access to services and entitlements (eg the 'old age pension',
'child support' payments - explored in the following page
- or concessional travel for 'seniors' and 'youth' on
the basis of age rather than economic need).
Just as fundamentally, age is a key identity in law. It
affects expectations of responsibility. It also shapes
opportunity, for example whether a person is allowed to
gain a driver licence, to vote, to buy alcohol or to enter
particular premises such as nightclubs. It is reflected
in age discrimination, potentially affecting both young
and old employees or job seekers
As a result age is an identity that some people seek to
subvert. Subversion is diverse; it is more complex than
young people seeking to gain access to nightclubs by editing
'proof of age' cards or improperly claiming concessional
fares when they have reached the magic 12, 16 or 18 year
age, identity and law
It has thus been suggested that Australian law fundamentally
sorts people into four categories.
The first two differentiate between those people with
full legal rights and those whose rights are restricted
(eg prison inmates and non-citizens, illustrated through
detention and deportation under the Migration Act
1958 (Cth)). The third and fourth categories differentiate
between people with requisite mental capacity and those
lacking the capacity (and, by extension, legal autonomy),
of whom a substantial number are children – an identity
based on age, for which see Criminal Code 2002
(ACT) ss 25-29 and the Age of Majority Act 1974
The 18th birthday confers identity as a voter under the
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) s 93. It
also identifies the consumer as one to whom retailers
are legally entitled, under the Liquor Act 1975
(ACT) s 152 and Tobacco Act 1927 (ACT) s 14,
to sell alcohol or cigarettes.
The 16th birthday under the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT)
s 55 broadly confers identity as someone with whom one
can legally engage in consensual sexual activity. In Tasmania
the same identity begins at 17 under the Criminal
Code Act 1924 (Tas) s 13 (124).
That identity may be subject to a partner being the appropriate
gender (‘appropriateness’ being a social and
thence legal construct), with Western Australia and Queensland
for example – until recently – recognising
identity in respect of gay sexual activity three years
after that of straight peers (ie not until the age of
21 in Western Australia).
The North Korean Gymnastics Federation listed Kim Gwang
Suk as being 16 at the 1991 gymnastics world championships.
She was claimed to be 15 for three consecutive years;
the Federation was later barred from the 1993 world championships
for falsifying ages.
next page (welfare
and identity crime)