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Participate in child protection proceedings

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This page was updated on 09 September 2022. To view changes, please see page updates

Attend court

As the applicant, the DCPL will attend all mentions for a child protection order at the Childrens Court. The CSO and senior team leader may attend court to:

  • provide an update to the court about a child’s and family’s circumstances
  • provide support to the child and parents
  • consult with the DCPL and other parties in the proceeding about case work and decision making for a child and family.

Note

The magistrate may request that the CSO and senior team leader to attend court.

If the DCPL requires the CSO’s and senior team leader’s attendance at court, the senior team leader will be notified by the DCPL at least 3 days before the court mention.

In line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 67, the Childrens Court may adjourn a child protection proceeding and make 1 or more of the following orders:

  • an interim order granting temporary custody of the child to the chief executive or a suitable person who is a member of the child’s family
  • an order requesting that a social assessment report about the child and the child’s family be prepared and filed in court
  • make directions about a parent’s contact with the child
  • that a family group meeting be convened to develop the case plan and the case plan be filed in court (Child Protection Act 1999, section 68(1) (d)(i)).

Prepare updating affidavits

The DCPL may request that an updating affidavit be filed in court to provide: 

  • new information about a child’s and family’s circumstances
  • a new case plan
  • assessments and referrals to a support service completed for a child and family
  • an updated assessment that includes a recommendation to revoke, vary or amend the current child protection application  
  • updated information or material before a child protection hearing 
  • advice that a party in the proceeding has made an appeal.

Complete an updated affidavit using the template Updating affadavit.

Note

A draft updating affidavit is provided to the senior team leader to review and approve before a copy is provided to the DCPL for feedback.

Work with the senior team leader to complete the Sensitive information checklist to advise the DCPL about sensitive documents or information that is included in the updating affidavit. It is the responsibility of the DCPL to redact (remove or conceal) sensitive information in the updating affidavit before it is finalised and filed in the Childrens Court.

Time sensitive

A draft updating affidavit will provided to the DCPL (via CourtShare) no later than 7 days before the court mention.

Serve the updating affidavit

The DCPL will finalise the updating affidavit before the CSO either swears or affirms the affidavit and provides a copy to the DCPL via CourtShare. The DCPL will file the affidavit in the Childrens Court.

If the parents are legally represented, the DCPL will serve a sealed affidavit on the parents, via their legal representative.

If parents are not legally represented, the DCPL will ask the CSO to serve the updating affidavit on the parents. Service must occur at least 3 days before the court mention in the Childrens Court.

Complete a Form 22—Affidavit of service for each parent as proof of service. Provide the completed form to the DCPL via CourtShare.

Provide an update to the DCPL

Time sensitive

Complete an Update to the DCPL form no later than 3 days before every court mention and provide a copy to the DCPL via CourtShare.

In line with the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 67 and 68, the Childrens Court may make directions on an interim child protection order. The CSO and senior team leader may seek a consult with the DCPL if a direction is required to:

  • authorise a medical examination or treatment of a child
  • direct a parent not to have direct or indirect contact with a child
  • enter and search any place the CSO or the QPS believes the child is.

Receive a court outcome

After every court mention, the DCPL will upload a Court outcome notification form, a copy of a sealed child protection order or directions made by the Childrens Court to CourtShare. It is the responsibility of OCFOS to attach the received documents to the child protection order event in ICMS and complete all mandatory fields in a Form 16 - Court Outcome Form—adjournment order.

Note

On the same day as the court mention, the DCPL will upload a Court outcome notification form to CourtShare. If the form is not uploaded, the DCPL must call the senior team leader to inform them of the court outcome before 5pm. If the DCPL is not able to contact the senior team leader before 5pm, the DCPL will call CSAHSC to inform them of the court outcome.

Request an appeal

The DCPL is responsible for initiating the appeal of a decision made by the Childrens Court and for responding to an appeal initiated by another party. An appeal may be initiated in response to the Childrens Court decisions relating to:

  • deciding for an application for a child protection order
    or
  • deciding against a decision made on the application for a child protection order, including interim child protection order.

The factors considered by the Childrens Court for an appeal include:

  • the impact of the court’s decision on the safety, wellbeing and best interests of the child
  • the proposed grounds for the appeal.

If the senior team leader considers an appeal should be made by the DCPL to the Childrens Court, a Form H – Child Safety appeal request form is completed and a case consultation will occur with the DCPL no later than 5 days after the Childrens Court decision. It is the responsibility of the DCPL, as the applicant in the child protection proceeding, to decide if an appeal will be initiated in the Childrens Court.

Engage with the separate representative

The Childrens Court will appoint a separate representative for a child if it is necessary and in their best interests. A separate representative may request that a social assessment report be completed to assist the court in deciding if a child protection order is in the best interests of the child. 

The separate representative will engage a social assessor to complete the social assessment report. After this:

  • The separate representative will contact the CSO or the senior team leader to advise them that a social assessor has been appointed.  
  • The CSO will inform the child, parents and other significant people (as necessary) about the assessment interviews.
  • The CSO will provide letters from the social assessor to the parents and carers advising them of the time and date of the assessment interview.
  • Child Safety will provide consent for the social assessor to review the child’s case file.
  • The social assessor will also interview the CSO and other relevant staff. 

If a child is not represented by a separate representative or OPG child advocate legal officer in a child protection proceeding, talk with the child about accessing a direct representative through Legal Aid Queensland. Consider the child’s age, development and maturity to be able to provide their legal representative with directions in a child protection proceeding.

Attention

A separate representative may request information about a child directly from the CSSC. All such requests are to be redirected to DCPL. Only DCPL can provide information to the separate representative. For further information refer to the practice guide Separate representative access to Child Safety information.

Note

The magistrate may order that a social assessment report be completed even if a separate representative is not appointed. 

The DCPL will provide a copy of the completed social assessment report to Child Safety through CourtShare.

Attend a court ordered conference

If one or both parents are contesting the application for a child protection order, a court ordered conference will be scheduled. The Childrens Court will inform the parents and other parties to the proceeding of the date and time of the conference.

Note

A separate court ordered conference may be requested for cases where there are domestic and family violence concerns or significant conflict between family members.   

For cases involving domestic and family violence, partner with the non-offending parent to determine their views on whether it is safer for them to participate in the court ordered conference jointly with the parent using violence, or separately.

Before the court ordered conference:

  • Talk with the child and parents of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child about whether they want to have an independent person help facilitate their participation in discussion about a significant decision at the conference.
  • Talk with the child about the conference and seek their views about attending, given their age and ability to understand.
  • Inform the DCPL if the child, independent person and other significant people are attending the conference.

The CSO, senior team leader and the DCPL will participate in a case consult 1 week before the scheduled court ordered conference.

The CSO and senior team leader attend the court ordered conference to provide information about case work and make any decisions as per their statutory obligations. 

Attention

The DCPL, as the applicant, is responsible for deciding if an agreement can be reached at the court ordered conference about the child protection order. This decision will be reached in consultation with the CSO and senior team leader.

Engage with the Office of the Public Guardian

Practice prompt

Consider completing a Referral from external agency—OPG legal services—child and young person team  for a child to receive a child advocate legal officer to represent their views and wishes in a child protection proceeding.

If the OPG files a notice of intention to appear or the magistrate requests the OPG’s involvement, the DCPL will seek a direction that OPG be served with filed documents.

The relevant CSSC will respond to general requests for information received from the OPG child advocates. This may include a request for historical court documents.

Further reading

For further guidance about sharing information with the OPG, refer to Information requests from the Office of the Public Guardian.

Attend an interim and final hearing

As the applicant, the DCPL is responsible for organising witnesses, issuing subpoenas and conducting all aspects of the case at an interim and final hearing. The DCPL can request the following witnesses attend a hearing:

  • the CSO who completed the investigation and assessment with an outcome recommending a child protection order
  • the CSO with current case responsibility
  • the senior team leader
  • previous CSOs with case responsibility.

Note

The senior team leader will attend all interim and final hearings to make any decisions related to case work and their statutory obligations.

Attention

It is the responsibility of the DCPL to provide witness preparation to CSOs and any other Child Safety staff before the scheduled hearing.

Seek a transition order

A transition order continues the existing child protection order for a period of up to 28 days to allow for the gradual transition of a child into the care of their parents in a way that:

  • supports the child
  • may reduce any disruption or distress experienced by the child
  • is in the best of interests of the child.

Practice prompt

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, in consultation and with the consent of the child and their family, arrange an independent person to help facilitate their participation in the decision-making process. For further information, refer to Procedure 5 Enable participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in decision making..

Attention

The DCPL or a party to the court proceeding can make a verbal application for a transition order when:

  • the Childrens Court makes a decision not to grant a subsequent child protection order

and 

  • the immediate return of a child to their parents’ care is expected to cause distress, and a gradual transition would be in the child’s best interest.

The Childrens Court may decide to make the order on its own initiative (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(3)).

A transition order may be considered for a child subject to a short-term order when the Childrens Court:

  • refuses to extend or make a further order
  • revokes the order
  • decides, in an appeal against the making of the order, in favour of a person other than the chief executive (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(1)(a)(i)–(iii)).

A transition order may also be considered for a child subject to a long-term order when the court:

  • revokes the order
  • decides, in an appeal against the making of the order, in favour of a person other than the chief executive (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(1)(b)(i)–(ii)).

The Childrens Court must:

  • be satisfied that the order is necessary to enable the gradual transition of the child to the parents’ care in a way that supports the child, reduces their disruption or distress or is otherwise in their best interest (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65B(1))
  • consider the child’s views and wishes
  • consider a parent’s readiness to care for the child and any other relevant matters (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65B(2))
  • for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, have regard to Aboriginal tradition or Island custom in relation to the child and the five elements of the child placement principle (Child Protection Act 1999, section 6AB).

If the Childrens Court adjourns an application for a transition order, the pre-existing child protection order continues in force until the application is decided (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(4)).

Develop a transition plan

If the Childrens Court makes a transition order, a transition plan for the child must be prepared. The transition plan outlines how Child Safety will support and gradually transition the child into the parents’ care to minimise distress and disruption to the child. 

To develop a transition plan:

  • Decide if a meeting is needed—this will depend on the length of the transition order and the complexity of the plan needed.
  • Obtain and consider the views of
    • the child, taking into account their age and developmental level
    • the child’s parents and their safety and support network
    • other relevant people, for example, the child’s counsellor.
  • Finalise the Transition plan.
  • Submit the transition plan to the senior team leader for approval.

Note

A magistrate can ask to see the transition plan before deciding on an application for a transition order. Complete the Transition plan as a word document and attach it to the ongoing intervention event in ICMS.

Final order

Once a child protection order is made by the Childrens Court, in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63, the DCPL will provide the parents with a copy of the order and a written notice explaining the terms of the order and their right to appeal the decision.

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