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3.2.5 Identification of children

Last Modified: 24-Mar-2022 Review Date: 01-Apr-2017

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation


Section 237 of the Children and Community Services Act (the Act) states that a person must not publish information that identifies, or may lead to the identification of a child as being a child in the CEO's care, except under the express written authorisation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or anExecutive Director with delegated decision-making responsibilities.

Section 237 of the Act also applies to children under protection orders (special guardianship).  If the child is under 18 years of age, regardless of who has parental responsibility, written authorisation can only be given by the CEO or delegate.  If the young person has exited care at 18, she or he can give written authorisation.  

The best interests of the child must be the guiding principle when making decisions about identifying a child in the CEO's care, now and in the future. There could be unintended consequences, such as making a child's whereabouts known, which could place the child in danger.

However, you must ensure that children in the CEO's care are not excluded from beneficial social experiences associated with photographing, video recording and other published media for special and/or cultural events that would be a positive experience for the child. This could include school photographs, cultural events and sports club articles.


  • If you become aware of the publication of any information that identifies a child as being a child in the CEO's care, inadvertently or otherwise, you must report this incident to the district director immediately.
Process Maps

Not applicable

Information and Instructions

  • Definitions
  • Permission to identify a child in the CEO's care
  • Privacy and social networking
  • Storage of published media
  • Definitions

    ‘Publish’:  To bring to the notice of the public or a section of the public by means of newspaper, photographs, television, radio, the internet or any other form of communication media.

    ‘Social Networking’:  To communicate and share information between two or more individuals on an online community. Some well-known social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


    Permission to identify a child in the CEO's care

    You can allow a child in the CEO's care to be photographed, video recorded, or included in other published media provided the child is not or cannot be identified as a child in the CEO's care, and their safety is not placed at risk by the publishing of the information. However, before providing any permission, you must consult with your team leader. 

    If there is a chance that the child's care status may be revealed, you must consult with your team leader and district director. 

    If the young person concerned is 18 years of age or older, they can provide their own written authorisation and make the decision based on their own views and wishes.  If the young person cannot be located and the decision to identify them is being made by the Department, you must document all attempts to seek permission and to ask them for their views and wishes about the decision. After serious attempts to contact the young person have failed, and there is a genuine identified need to disclose the status of the young person as being in the CEO's care, the DG or relevant Assistant Director General may authorise publication. 

    You must discuss with carers the legal requirement not to identify a child as being a child in the CEO's care. All carers must be made aware that if they believe publishing information about a child would be in the child's best interest, they must seek permission through the appropriate channels and the decision will be made in consideration of the child's views and wishes, their care plan and cultural support plan and their ability to give informed consent. 

    Further information is available in Information Sheet - Confidentiality (in related resources). 

    You must also consider seeking permission from the child's parents, family and significant others, depending on the specific circumstances of the situation, the child's wishes and the nature of the family relationships.

    If the child is Aboriginal, you must consult with an Aboriginal practice leader or another relevant senior Aboriginal worker before deciding to publish identifying information about a child in the CEO's care. You should also consider consulting with other family members and/or elders in the community to identify any specific cultural considerations.

    If the child is from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background, you must consult with the family to identify any relevant cultural issues that may arise by identifying the child.

    Children who are Aboriginal or CaLD are likely to regularly participate in community cultural events.  Planning for the possibility of the child being photographed or filmed at these events should be considered in their Cultural Support Plan. 

    When responding to a request for permission for information to be published by a school, community group or other which does not identify the child as being a child in the CEO's care, you:

    • must sign the permission form provided by the school, community group or other and place a copy on the child's case file
    • should consult with their team leader if there are any concerns about granting permission, and
    • should, depending on the circumstances of the case, seek the consent of the child or child's parent (refer to Form 773 - Permission Form – Media and/or Publications in related resources).

    If a child is missing and/or there are concerns for that child's safety, the Department may seek the public's assistance to locate a child in the CEO's care.

    See the section below for details on the approval process.  

    You should seek approval to publish the identification details of a child in the CEO's care when:

    • a child is missing and there are safety concerns for the child. In this instance the Department may seek help from the public to locate the child, or
    • an article is to be published to promote a young person in the CEO's care following receipt of a Young Achievers Award.

    If you believe there are appropriate grounds for a child's details to be published in a newspaper or other medium, and it appears to be in the child's best interests, you must follow the process detailed below for approval. 

    • Submit a briefing note to the district director for endorsement. The briefing note should include:
      • an outline of the background, current status and assessment of the issue and include the birth family's likely reaction
      • the circumstances surrounding the proposed publication, and 
      • the rationale for publishing information that would identify the child in care.
    • Forward the following by email to
      • a copy of the material to be published
      • the briefing note endorsed and signed by the district director 
      • a completed Form 773 - Permission Form – Media and/or Publications (in related resources) which has been signed by the person/s agreeing to be photographed and by our staff (if applicable), and 
      • a completed Instrument of Authorisation (in related resources) template for the DG's consideration and approval.

    You will be advised of the outcome of the request. 


    Privacy and social networking

    Social networking websites and mobile phones have become popular tools for children to socialise and share information. 

    Children in the CEO's care are a vulnerable group whose personal information should be safeguarded to prevent exposure to bullying, stalking or disclosure of their location.

    Children in the CEO's care should be provided with education about the importance of privacy and how to keep their personal details private when they are using social networking sites or mobile phones.  This includes making sure the child or young person is aware that they should keep the following information private: 

    • Their status as a child in the CEO's care. 
    • The details of their foster carer. 
    • Their full name.  
    • Any relevant addresses. 
    • Any relevant telephone numbers.
    • What school or groups they attend (such as a sporting club).


    Storage of published media

    You must store all published media (including photographs) of a child in the CEO's care on the Child History Folder and scan a copy for the child’s Child History File.

    Store any contentious published media and associated case notes in the child’s case file.