through a lawyer representing the child. They will act on what they think the evidence shows is in the best interests of the child.
Children’s Division courts are generally closed courts. The media and all members of the public are generally excluded from the courtroom. There will usually be:
the Magistrate and court staff (including security guards)
you, your partner/ex-partner, or other family members
Child Protection Services workers
experts like a doctor or psychologist
Do you need legal advice?
You might need legal advice if:
your children are at risk of physical or psychological harm
you can’t agree with Child Protection Services about what’s in your children’s best interests
you’re going to Court because Child Protection Services is seeking an order
you’re thinking about signing a care agreement proposed by Child Protection Services
Getting legal advice can help you understand the choices you have and what is happening. It’s a good idea to get legal advice before you go to court.
To find out where to get legal advice from, refer to our Support Services section.
If your child is placed ‘in care’, they will live away from you:
with another family: either a foster carer or a relative
in a family group home
or in a therapeutic care environment
A Child Protection Worker will write a ‘case and care plan’ for how your child will be supported while they’re in care. This plan may cover their education, health and recreation; and their access to you, their brothers/sisters and other family
The Child Protection Worker will talk to you, your child, their carer and others about what should be in this plan. You can ask to be involved in developing this plan. You can also ask what to do to work towards the arrangements you want.
If your child doesn’t have a ‘case and care plan’ (or you’re not sure), ask the Child Protection Worker or get legal advice.
Sometimes children are in care for a short time, and sometimes they’re in care for a longer time.
It depends on:
what kind of order is in place
what needs to happen to make it safe for your child to go home
Sometimes that means you, your partner or other people in your life need to change your lifestyle or behaviour.
If your child is in care and you:
want to know why they can’t live with you: talk to the Child Protection Worker or get legal advice
have concerns about your child’s welfare: talk to the Child Protection Worker. If you’re not happy with what they tell you, get legal advice
think your child may be in danger: call the police and get legal advice. The police will decide if they take action
Yes, there are booklets available for children and young people that explain:
who is involved in the child protection process
who they can talk to about concerns
how to have a say in what happens
court processes and court orders
You can find these booklets at the Commissioner for Children’s website.
Child protections laws include:
Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997
Magistrates Court (Children’s Division) Act 1998.
These focus on the best interests of children, and aim to make sure children are kept safe from physical or psychological harm, and are properly cared for. These acts believe:
the primary responsibility for a child’s care and protection lies with the child’s family
a high priority is given to supporting and helping the family carry out that primary responsibility, in preference to starting legal proceedings
if the family is not able to meet its responsibilities to the child and the child is at risk, then the Secretary (of the Dept of Health and Human Services) may accept those responsibilities