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3.2.11 Sterilisation of a child in care with intellectual disability

Last Modified: 28-Feb-2022 Review Date: 30-Apr-2010

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation


This entry provides information to child protection workers about the sterilisation of a child in the care of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department of Communities with intellectual disability.

Under s.10 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004, child protection workers need to emphasise the importance of child participation, particularly in relation to significant events and times of intense planning for the child:

When a decision is being made that is likely to have a significant impact on a child's life, to make sure the child is able to participate in the decision-making process, the child must be given:

  • adequate information about the decision being made, in accessible language and in a way the child can understand.
  • an explanation on why the Department is making this decision.
  • an opportunity to express their wishes and views freely, according to their ability
  • any help they need to express their views and wishes
  • information on how their views and wishes will be documented, and
  • a chance to respond and to challenge the decision made.

In this situation, consider the child's age and level of understanding to maximise the extent of their participation as much as possible.  


Not applicable

Process Maps

Not applicable

Information and Instructions

  • Family Court application
  • Information provided to the district director
  • Family Court application

    The Family Court has sole responsibility for decision making in relation to the sterilisation of a child.   

    The Department does not have the power to confirm or reject a request for the sterilisation of a child in the CEO’s care.

    Our primary role is to make an assessment about whether we will make or support an application to the Family Court. Some of the key issues that need to be considered include the following:

    • The best interests of the child is the paramount consideration. 
    • Is sterilisation the most appropriate form of treatment to maintain the child’s health, safety and wellbeing, or is it necessary to save the child’s life or prevent serious damage to the child’s health?
    • Sterilisation is the procedure of last resort, and must relate to existing rather than future or anticipated problems. You must have proof that other less invasive procedures to treat the medical condition and/or all available means of counselling, training, practical support have been exhausted and failed. 
    • Assessments recommending sterilisation need to be supported by psychological and medical assessments which recommend that this procedure is in the child’s best interests. 
    • You also need to consider the long and short term consequences of this action being carried out, or not carried out.
    • You also need to obtain the views of the significant parties, including the child, the parents, the guardians and/or the person responsible for the child’s daily care.

    Information provided to the district director

    If consideration regarding the sterilisation of a child in the care of the CEO with intellectual disability arises, the issue must be raised with the district director.  The district director may convene a meeting, in the first instance, with the relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director, General Manager, Specialist Child Protection Unit, and General Counsel.

    For more information refer to the Memorandum of understanding between the Department and the Public Advocate in related resources.