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Permanency legislation and principles

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This page was updated on 27 February 2024. To view changes, please see page updates

Legislation, policy and procedures guide Child Safety’s approach to permanency.

The Child Protection Act 1999 has specific areas that relate to permanency. While all the principles in the Child Protection Act 1999, part 2, division 1 need to be addressed in decision making, there are additional principles that must be considered when making decisions or taking actions about children in achieving permanency.

These are outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 5BA and are to be considered at all phases of the child protection continuum.


ongoing positive, loving, trusting and nurturing relationships with significant others, which may include the young person’s parents, siblings, carers and guardians.

Relationships with carers and family need to be supported to ensure that children and young people have a range of people as part of their safety and support network. This is crucial in permanency decision making.


safe, stable living arrangements with connections to the child’s community that meet the child’s developmental, educational, emotional, health, intellectual and physical needs.

Children will have a stable carer, guardian or parent to live with, and they will have access to support services when they need them.


 legal arrangements for a child’s care will provide a child with a sense of permanency and long-term stability, for example, long-term guardianship orders; permanent care orders, Family Court orders or adoption. 

A child protection order will provide a child with stability and security in the long term until they are assisted in taking on adult responsibility for themselves or have an adult guardian to assist them.

The Child Protection Act 1999, section 5BA(4) also requires preferences for achieving permanency for children and young people to be considered in the following order:


  • the first preference is for the child to be cared for by the child’s family
  • the second preference is for the child to be cared for under the guardianship of a person who is a member of the child’s family, other than a parent of the child, or another suitable person
  • if the child is not an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child—the next preference is for the child to be adopted under the Adoption Act 2009
  • the next preference is for the child to be cared for under the guardianship of the chief executive
  • if the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child—the last preference is for the child to be adopted under the Adoption Act 2009.

This video outlines key Child Protection Reform Amendment Act amendments that occurred in 2018 and highlights the importance of supporting the long-term stability, safety, wellbeing and belonging of children and young people through timely decisions and case work.

Child Protection Reform Act Amendments – info for children, young people, parents and carers

Concurrent planning—which sees the development of a primary and an alternative case plan goal—is embedded in the Child Protection Act 1999 under Section 51B. The aim of concurrent planning is to achieve timely permanency for children and young people.

Legislatively, a departmental case plan must include a primary goal for best achieving permanency and the actions to be taken to achieve this goal. In most cases, reunification will be identified as the primary goal for achieving permanency. An alternative permanency goal must also be identified, in the event that the timely return of the child to the care of a parent is not possible.

When considering permanency options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families, the right to self-determination (to make decisions about their own lives) and the child placement principle elements of prevention, partnership, placement, participation, and connection in the Act are to be applied.

Family-led decision making processes are used to ensure maximum involvement of families in planning for children. They are very important in making permanency decisions.

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