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3.4.23 Interstate and New Zealand liaison

Last Modified: 24-Mar-2022 Review Date: 04-Jan-2021

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

All Australian states and territories and New Zealand have agreed upon the Interstate Child Protection Protocol (the Protocol).

Within the Protocol and in the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act), 'State is used to refer to all Australian states and territories and New Zealand. 

The Protocol (in related resources) provides a framework within which the States work together within their respective legislations to promote the best interests and wellbeing of children.  The Protocol is based on the principle that all parties to it operate on a basis of mutual respect and co-operation for the benefit of the children to whom it applies.

In accordance with the Protocol, each state has a dedicated Interstate Liaison Officer (ILO) who coordinates interstate referrals, requests for information and assistance, and promotes understanding of the Protocol. The specialist WA Interstate Liaison Officer (WA ILO) role sits in the Statewide Referral and Response Service.

Any queries relating to interstate matters should be sent to:  WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au

This entry provides information  about the processes for:

  • exchanging information between the Department of Communities (the Department) and interstate child protection agencies
  • requesting assistance from interstate child protection agencies, and
  • transferring orders and proceedings to other states.

 Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department.

Rules

 

  • The primary consideration in any interstate care arrangement must be the best interests and needs of the child. Where possible and appropriate, the views of the child, their parents and caregivers must be sought and respected. 

Process Maps
  
  • Request for Child Protection Information from Another State Child Protection Agency
  • Request for an Interstate Broadcast Alert
  • Request for an Interstate Notification
  • Request to another State Child Protection Agency for a Carer Assessment
  • Request for Interstate Casework Assistance

Information and Instructions

  • Requesting interstate information and assistance
  • Information sharing between child protection agencies
  • Interstate child protection notifications and alerts
  • Referrals during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic
  • Considerations in deciding to place a child interstate
  • Initial screening and assessment of interstate carers
  • Use of private practitioners
  • Department officers undertaking carer assessments in another State
  • Requests from other States to undertake carer, family and significant other carer assessments
  • Assessments of family and significant others for holiday and contact visits
  • Requests for interstate casework assistance for a child on a protection order
  • Requests for interstate casework assistance task - Home Visit & Parent Interview to explore Readiness for Reunification
  • Requests for interstate casework assistance for a child who does not have a protection order
  • Interstate requests to locate a care arrangement
  • Order transfer from WA to another Australian State, territory and New Zealand
  • Requesting interstate information and assistance

    The Department may request information and assistance from another State child protection department in the following circumstances:

    1. We are assessing or investigating current child protection concerns and are requesting information from another State about their previous involvement to help inform our assessment.
    2. We want to alert or notify another State about a risk of harm for a child or children who have relocated to that State.
    3. We want to request another State to undertake a carer assessment, carer review or preliminary assessment of a parent's readiness for reunification on our behalf as the client resides interstate.
    4. We are requesting another State to locate an interstate placement.
    5. We are requesting ongoing casework assistance (co-work) to support and monitor the care arrangement for a child placed interstate.
    6. We are requesting a transfer of a protection order.
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    Information sharing between child protection agencies

    The Protocol allows for the exchange of information between child protection departments in other Australian States and New Zealand.  It does not apply to the exchange of information between other Australian State government departments, with child protection agencies overseas (apart from New Zealand) or with third party non-government agencies.  Interstate records that have been provided as part of a child protection history check are subject to the confidentiality and privacy provisions of each state's legislation.

    Information from another child protection department can be requested for several reasons:

    1. Where there are current child protection concerns being assessed or investigated and the family may have a relevant child protection history with another State.
    2. Where information is sought for the purpose of a carer assessment or contact with a family member or adult household member (written consent is required before the request is made – Form 140 Consent to Interstate Child Protection History Check).
    3. Where there are concerns that a parent's own past child protection history is impacting on their current parenting capacity (written consent is required before the request is made – complete Form 140 Consent to Interstate Child Protection History Check).

    A summary of child protection information and some relevant records may be provided in accordance with each state's information exchange provisions. The information obtained from a child protection history check under the Protocol cannot be attached as an exhibit to an affidavit without a subpoena unless otherwise agreed by the relevant state.

    You must complete Form 901 Request for Interstate and New Zealand Information (in related resources) and forward to the WA ILO via WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au.  

    Form 140 Consent to Interstate Child Protection History Check (in related resources) must accompany requests for a child protection history check for a prospective carer.  Form 140 is also required for a parent or another adult's own child protection history. The WA ILO forwards the forms to the receiving state.

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    Interstate child protection notifications and alerts

    If you have safety and wellbeing concerns about a child or family you are working with, and that family may have, or is believed to have left WA, it is a practice requirement and obligation under the Protocol that you forward an Interstate Notification or Alert to the child protection agency in the relevant States to initiate follow-up and further investigation.

    Form 903 Interstate Notification of Risk of Harm (in related resources) is used when a child or family's location or interstate address is known. 

    Form 661 Request for Interstate/New Zealand Alert (in related resources) is used when the child or family's location is not known.

    Locating the child

    In the first instance, you should try to locate the child and obtain the family's new interstate address with a request for information to Services Australia (Centrelink or Medicare.)  Before requesting a notification or alert, you should attempt to locate the child or family by completing:

    1. SI041 Request by a Child Protection Agency for Information from Centrelink and emailing it to: Centrelink.InformationRequests@communities.wa.gov.au and/or
    2. SI042 Request by a Child Protection Agency for Information from Medicare and emailing it to: medicare.child.protection@communities.wa.gov.au (both forms also in related resources).

    In urgent situations you should send the Form 661 while awaiting the responses from Centrelink and Medicare.

    Child protection notifications

    Form 903 Interstate Notification of Risk of Harm (in related resources) is used for the following purposes:

    1. Notification of concern – there is a current risk of harm and/or neglect to a child, and the family has left WA. The family's exact interstate location is known.  A notification formally advises the other State about the concerns, so that they are aware and can take appropriate action according to their legislation.

    2. Interstate advice of significant child protection involvement - we want to advise another State child protection department of a family's history and involvement with us in WA for information purposes, as there is a reasonable likelihood that the family will come to the attention of interstate authorities.  This form must only be used if the family's exact interstate location is known.

    3. Notification of travel for a child in the CEO's care where possible concerns may arise while the child is interstate - district approval processes apply for interstate travel.   If difficulties are likely to arise while the child is interstate, careful consideration should be given before allowing the interstate travel to occur.

    If a current new address is provided by Centrelink or Medicare, you should complete Form 903 Interstate Notification of Risk of Harm with the new address and email it to: WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au   

    The WA ILO will liaise with the relevant state's child protection department to record the Notification on their system.

    Child protection alerts

    Where you have safety and wellbeing concerns for a child or family who you believe has moved to another State and their location is unknown, you must consult with your team leader to consider whether to request an interstate alert.  In the first instance you must attempt to locate the child and family by requesting information through Centrelink or Medicare (refer above 'Locating the child'); however, if this is unsuccessful, you should obtain their team leaders approval to request an interstate alert. 

    To request an alert be placed on another State's child protection system complete Form 661 – Request for Interstate/New Zealand Alert (in related resources) and email it to WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au

    The WA ILO will liaise with the relevant State's child protection departments to record the alert on their systems.

    You should be aware that recording an Interstate Alert on Assist does not mean that an Alert has been created and forwarded to other States.  

    All child protection departments have their own client information systems and requests for Interstate Alerts are actioned through each State's Interstate Liaison Officer.

    For more information, refer to the Interstate Child Protection Protocol 2021.

    When the family's whereabouts become known, you must notify the WA ILO to request:

    1. that Alerts are withdrawn when no longer required, and/ or
    2. a Notification is forwarded to the relevant State.
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    Referrals during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the WA ILO will manage outgoing referrals from a District on a case by case basis and will advise of the Interstate child protection response to COVID-19 in the other State.

    For further information or if you have any queries, email the WA Interstate Liaison inbox: WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au 

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    Considerations in deciding to place a child interstate

    Interstate care arrangements should always be planned processes and there should be a formal planning or review meeting with avenues of appeal available to significant parties. The planning or review meeting should clearly articulate the case goals and the nature of work to be undertaken with the child and/or family (including reasons for the care arrangement and a child's relocation interstate).

    The meeting should also confirm the appropriateness of the planned relocation and interstate care arrangement.  It should specifically determine that the care arrangement is in the child's best interests, is likely to remain stable and long-term, and that it meets the child's needs. 

    Where interstate care arrangements for children are being planned, decision-making should be guided by the following principles:

    • The best interests of the child are paramount.

    • Where there is a need to place children interstate away from their immediate family members, links to parents and siblings should be maintained.

    • Parents and children's wishes must be taken into consideration (where they have sufficient understanding) when placing a child interstate.

    • When assessing the best care arrangement option for a child, consideration should be given to:

      • the location and access to services needed by the child

      • the carer's capacity to meet the child's needs

      • results of the carer's child protection and criminal history checks

      • the child's cultural and religious needs

      • ease of contact with other family members

      • maintenance of sibling relationships

      • the safety of the care environment

      • long-term stability, and where relevant, and

      • the risk the child may present to others.

    • Where we are responsible for placing a child, the carers must be formally assessed to meet the criteria under Regulation 4 of the Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 and approved as suitable.

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    Initial screening and assessment of interstate carers

    Children in the CEO's care must not be placed in another State unless an appropriate carer assessment has been conducted.  

    A request for the relevant State to undertake a carer assessment on WA's behalf must be sent to the WA ILO well in advance of the child's possible relocation.

    The interstate carer for a child subject to a WA child protection order must meet all the requirements for approval of carers in this state.

    The State sending the request (the sending state) is responsible for conducting and completing all relevant and prescribed child protection and criminal history checks for a proposed caregiver unless otherwise negotiated or there are exceptional circumstances.  The results of these checks must be included with documentation forwarded with the request. 

    The assessment report writer must make a recommendation on the suitability of the proposed care arrangement; however, the decision to proceed rests solely with the sending state.

    Under the Working with Children Check (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 a person who does not reside in WA, and is not undertaking child-related work in WA, cannot apply for a WA Working with Children Card. 

    Similarly, WA registered carers who live in another State may not be eligible for a Working with Children Card in that State as the Department is considered to be the 'employer'.  Our carers residing interstate will need to refer to the legislative requirements of the State they live in.

    Before requesting an assessment of prospective carers residing in another State, you must:

    • discuss the proposed assessment with the client and obtain as much preliminary background information as possible to help inform the assessment
    • enter the background information into the Form 560 (if you are requesting the assessment to be written on this form) and submit it to the WA ILO with the Request for Carer Assessment
    • verify that the client agrees to the carer assessment being undertaken by child protection workers
    • provide the client with information about the assessment process, including that it will usually take one to two home visits to complete, and the timeframe for interstate assessments is eight weeks
    • ask the proposed carers to complete and sign Form 140 Consent to Interstate Child Protection History Check (in related resources), and
    • request screening checks – the Child Protection (CP) History Check and police criminal record checks. 

    Child Protection History Checks for prospective interstate carers should be requested from the State the person currently lives in and any other States they have previously lived in. 

    1. Complete Form 901 Request for Interstate and New Zealand Information
    2. Forward Form 901 with Form 140 Consent to Interstate Child Protection History Check to WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au 
    3. Police criminal record checks are carried out by the Screening Unit – complete Form 395 Record Check Consent Form.

    In cases where we wish to request a carer assessment by another State, forward the request to the WA ILO through the WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au mailbox. The WA ILO negotiates with the ILO in the other State.

    1. Complete Form 902 Request for Interstate Placement Assessment (in related resources).  
    2. If a household safety check is required, this must be specified and a copy of Form 715 Environmental Checklist for Foster Carer Applicants (in related resources) must be attached to the request.
    3. Attach a copy of the child's care plan to Form 902.  Information about the child's behaviour and specific needs must be included in the referral to enable a thorough assessment of the carer's capacity to meet the child's needs to be undertaken. 
    4. Attach all relevant specialist reports to help inform the assessment.

    If the receiving State is satisfied that the material provided by the sending State is sufficient to undertake the carer assessment, the receiving State should complete the assessment within eight weeks of receipt of the request by the ILO.  

    If this not achievable, the relevant ILOs should negotiate a timeframe.  Requests for assessments in remote and/or isolated regions must be discussed directly with the ILO and timeframes must be negotiated on a case by case basis.

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    Use of private practitioners

    If a district office requires an urgent carer asssessment it can ask for a private contractor to complete the assessment. The district is responsible for all costs related to the assessment including all travel and accommodation. 

    To obtain a list of preferred providers in other States, you should liaise with the WA ILO through the mailbox. The availability of private contractors can vary in rural and remote locations and in some states.

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    Department officers undertaking carer assessments in another State

    You may travel interstate to conduct carer assessments, but the cost is incurred by the district and Department approval processes apply. 

    You should be aware that: 

    • your assessment may not meet the assessment requirements of the receiving State and the carer may not meet the competencies of another State.  This could lead to that State not accepting WA's request for casework assistance or transfer of a comparable Order at a later stage. 

    • in NZ it is a legal requirement for all child protection workers to be registered social workers with the NZ Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB). Child Protection Workers in Australia who are accredited social workers with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) may apply to register in NZ and if accepted will receive a practicing certificate enabling them to undertake child protection work in NZ.  If a State in Australia wants to send its own child protection workers to NZ to undertake child protection tasks and they are not registered with the NZ SWRB, it will need to consult with NZ to arrange for a NZ registered social worker to undertake the tasks with them.

    All states undertake their own full carer assessments prior to considering Order transfers to ensure their own registration requirements are met.

    You should:

    1. notify colleagues in the other State of your plans to undertake the assessment in their State as a matter of professional courtesy, and 
    2. email details of your plans to the WA ILO via WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au.
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    Requests from other States to undertake carer, family and significant other carer assessments

    A district may be requested to undertake an assessment on behalf of interstate colleagues under the Protocol.

    If the district is unable to complete the requested assessment internally within the timeframe of eight weeks, and an alternative timeframe cannot be negotiated, the district must meet the costs of contracting an appropriately qualified private practitioner or agency worker to undertake the assessment.

    The assessment report writer must make a clear recommendation regarding the suitability of the proposed care arrangement; however the decision to proceed rests solely with the sending State.​

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    Assessments of family and significant others for holiday and contact visits

    There are reciprocal arrangements in place for holiday and contact visit assessments; these must be competed in six weeks from the date of receipt of the request.  These assessments are brief and usually involve one home visit to complete a Form 715 Environmental Checklist for Foster Carer Applicants (in related resources) and meet with prospective family carers.

    All requests for these assessments must be submitted to the other States at least two months before the holiday or contact visit.

    Child protection history and criminal history checks should be undertaken before a request for an assessment is made.

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    Requests for interstate casework assistance for a child on a protection order

    You can request a one-off casework task as well as ongoing casework assistance.  Complete Form 904 – Request for Interstate Casework Assistance from WA (in related resources).  

    Case management responsibilities and decision-making remain with the State holding the protection order.  If a child has been relocated interstate, monitoring and general support of the child's care arrangement can be requested from the State the child moved to.

    When a child subject to a WA child protection order is placed interstate, you should request casework assistance from the other State as soon as possible after the care arrangement.

    You must complete Form 904 – Request for Interstate Casework Assistance from WA (in related resources). When requesting casework assistance, as much information as possible should be provided about the child, as well as a copy of the child's protection order, current case plan and carer assessment.

    A request for casework assistance must also contain a clear contingency plan if the care arrangement breaks down. The assistance is usually limited to general support and monitoring of the care arrangement through home visits.

    Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the receiving State should respond to the request for casework assistance within six weeks of receipt by the ILO, accepting or declining the request in writing. If a response has not been received within nine weeks and the issue remains unresolved, the sending State may refer the matter in accordance with the dispute resolution process.

    If a child is on a WA Order, but residing interstate, the Department retains legal guardianship, and is responsible for all case management decisions and financial support of the care arrangement until the child protection order has been transferred to the other State.  

    You are expected to maintain contact with the carer and child to provide as much support as is reasonably practicable. The receiving State's role is to provide local assistance and casework tasks such as face to face contact that are not practical for the Department to provide. You should handle the aspects of case management that can be managed remotely via phone, skype and email.

    You are also responsible for maintaining regular communication with the child's school, support services and professionals involved with the child and family, and ensuring regular feedback is obtained from the co-worker in the receiving State.

    The management of cases involving children should ideally be undertaken by the State in which the child resides.  You should seek to transfer protection orders where appropriate.  After a minimum period of ongoing casework assistance by another State for a child in the CEO's care (usually three to six months), a request may be made for transfer of a comparable child protection order.  Order transfer is a complex process and WA cannot compel another State to accept WA protection orders. 

    There are essential requirements that must be met before requesting an order transfer.

    All requests for order transfers must be discussed with the WA ILO.  For detailed information on transferring WA protection orders, refer to Chapter 3.3 Transferring child protection orders to other Australian states or territories and New Zealand

     

    In cases where the transfer of the child protection order is not possible, not necessary, or not in the child or family's best interests, the State holding the order may request ongoing casework assistance. The casework assistance request, without transfer of the order, should be reviewed every two years.    Casework assistance is renewed by submitting a new Form 904 and attaching a copy of the current plan and sending via WA ILO. The State holding the order remains responsible for case management decisions and all financial costs associated with the care arrangement.

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    Requests for interstate casework assistance task - Home Visit & Parent Interview to explore Readiness for Reunification

    • Decisions about reunification are subject to legislation and policy in each State and there are differences between the States in relation to reunification requirements, policy, practice and the outsourcing of casework tasks and assessments associated with reunification. If the district requires an interstate casework assistance task for a home visit and parent interview to explore readiness for reunification, Form 905 (in related resources) must be completed. Prior to submitting the request, the sending State should check with the receiving State as to whether or not they can accept these types of requests.

    • Decisions about reunification require thorough preparation and case planning, as well as comprehensive and ongoing assessment and review; therefore, responsibility for the overall reunification process, including the decision to progress to a reunification plan, rests solely with the sending State.  Refer to 3.4 Stabilty and connection planning for guidance.

    • The sending State is responsible for completing child protection and criminal history checks in relation to the parent/s' located in the receiving State and, unless otherwise agreed, should undertake such checks prior to forwarding the request for a home visit.

    • As part of decision making regarding whether to begin the reunification process, a State may request another State to undertake a home visit to interview the parent/s and conduct a home safety assessment that is not practical for the sending State to undertake.  

    • The role of the receiving State is limited to providing general observations of the home environment, the parent/s' presentation and obtaining the parent/s' self-reported information. The information gathered will inform the sending State's development of a reunification plan; it is not intended as a replacement for a comprehensive parenting capacity or reunification assessment.

    • Provided the receiving State is satisfied that the material provided by the sending State is sufficient to undertake the interview, the receiving State should complete it within eight weeks of receipt of the request by the ILO. If this is not achievable, the States should make every effort to agree an extension of the timeframe.

    • If a sending State requires the completion of a specialist parenting capacity assessment by a clinical psychologist or a comprehensive reunification assessment, then the sending State can request the details of appropriately qualified private practitioners who could be contracted, with the costs to be borne by the sending State.

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    Requests for interstate casework assistance for a child who does not have a protection order

    Where a carer has been granted Guardianship (such as a Special Guardianship Order or Family Court Order), or where the child is residing with his or her biological parents and there are no current protective concerns, the general understanding is that the receiving State would not be involved in providing ongoing casework support.

    In exceptional circumstances, a specific time limited casework assistance request may be made by the sending State, subject to discussion with, and agreement by the receiving State.  This might occur, for example, in situations where the child has recently been reunified with biological parents and further assistance is required to support the child and family. 

    In these circumstances the referral must be discussed with the family, and the family must be willing to engage with service providers.  The family's interstate address and contact details must be provided.  Complete Form 904 – Request for Interstate Casework Assistance from WA (in related resources). Acceptance of the request is at the complete discretion of the receiving State in accordance with its own policy and practice frameworks, service eligibility criteria and resourcing capacity.

    Whenever possible, you must attempt to locate local support services at the time of the child and family's relocation interstate and ensure referrals are in place to support the child and family's transition to living interstate and case closure.

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    Interstate requests to locate a care arrangement

    In specific circumstances, the Department may request another State to assist in locating a suitable non-family care arrangement for a child subject to a protection order (time-limited or until 18).  A referral to locate an interstate care arrangement may be requested for a child if it is deemed to be in the child's best long-term interests to reside in another State, and may occur in situations when:

    1. the Department is seeking to return the child to a care arrangement  in their home State where the child's family members reside, and the child has established connections 

    2. we are actively pursuing reunification of the child with parents or significant family members who live interstate or in New Zealand and are strongly motivated to work toward reunification of the child to their care, or to maintain longer term positive contact with the child, and they intend to remain at that location

    3. the child's current interstate care arrangement has broken down and it is deemed to be in the child's best interests to remain interstate to ensure ongoing contact with parents, siblings and family members, or

    4. the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and another State is considered to be their country. 

    All child protection agencies in Australia and New Zealand experience care arrangement shortages and difficulty in locating appropriate non-family care arrangements for children on protection orders.  This is particularly relevant for older children, children with behavioural and/or development issues, sibling groups, and identified indigenous children. 

    Given the overall shortage of care arrangements throughout Australia and New Zealand, it is unlikely that an interstate one will be found, and parallel planning should also occur. 

    To request a care arrangement interstate or in New Zealand, complete Form 906 (in related resources).  Provide as much information as possible to assist in locating an appropriate care arrangement for the child.  A current care plan, and where relevant, reunification proposal details must be attached.  The request must be endorsed by a district director before it is sent to WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au  

    In accordance with the Interstate Protocol, another state will attempt to locate a suitable care arrangement and will provide an update on the status of the referral within eight weeks.  The receiving State is required to make active efforts to locate a care arrangement, but this can only be actioned according to capacity and resources.  If a care arrangement has not been located after three months, the Department will be advised in writing, and the request closed.

    If the interstate care arrangement of a child on a WA Protection Order breaks down, the requesting district office is responsible for making immediate arrangements for the child's accommodation, and this includes returning the child to WA if another interstate care arrangement cannot be located. 

    All care arrangement costs remain the responsibility of the State holding the protection order.

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    Order transfer from WA to another Australian State, territory and New Zealand

    For detailed information on transferring child protection orders to other Australian states or territories and New Zealand please refer to Chapter 3.3 Transferring child protection orders to other Australian states or territories and New Zealand

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