To inform child protection workers of the consent procedures required when a child in the CEO's care wants to marry.
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 young person must be given:
In relation to the extent of a child's participation, due regard must be given to the child's age and level of understanding.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).
Under s.11 of the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 young people 18 years and older may marry in Australia. If exceptional and unusual circumstances exist, a judge or magistrate may authorise the marriage of a young person between 16 and 18 years of age to a person 18 years or older. For a young person for whom the CEO has parental responsibility, the CEO (or delegate) must also consent to the marriage.
Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) district directors have delegated authority to approve and sign consent forms for children who are under the parental responsibility of the CEO who wish to marry - children under a protection order (time-limited) and a protection order (until 18).
Where a child has been provided with a placement service under s.32(1)(a) of the Act, or is the subject of a negotiated placement agreement, parental responsibility remains with the parents and approval cannot be provided by the district director (refer to related resource
In the CEO’s Care – Parental Responsibility Chart for specific information).
The young person must participate in the decision to marry.
A Department decision to support the young person must include an assessment of their capacity to make such a decision (refer to Gillick Principle in related resources).
In all instances where consent to marriage is sought for a young person you must make reasonable efforts to involve the young person's parents and include them in the decision-making process. Record these efforts on the case file.
Where the parents object to the proposed marriage you must be inform them of their avenues of review before approval is given.
Where the young person has an Aboriginal background, you must consult with the Aboriginal practice leader (or other relevant Aboriginal officer) in the district office. Record all consultations and saved in the case file.
Where the young person has a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background, you must consider specific language and cultural needs. Where possible, obtain this information should from the child’s family and community. Refer to the Principal Policy and Planning Officer, Cultural Diversity in Specialist Child Protection Unit (SPCU) for additional information about cultural and/or religious issues that should be considered - SpecialistchildProtectonUnitGeneralEnquiries@communities.wa.gov.au.
If a decision is made to proceed with the marriage, you must consult with the Legal and Business Services via the SharePoint Request for Legal and Business Services page on the process involved in making the application to a judge or magistrate.
If a young person in the CEO's care (or a foster carer) approaches the Department about the process for obtaining consent to be married, child protection workers need to be aware that marriage of a young person 16 years of age but not yet 18 years old is only possible if the person they are marrying is over 18 years of age.
The decision to approve marriage of a young person under the age of 18 years is a very serious matter, with long term emotional, social and legal consequences for the young person in question. It is not expected that requests to marry occur routinely. When this does occur, a care plan report supporting the request to marry is a prerequisite to forwarding a submission for approval to the district director.
Child protection workers should obtain a copy of the consent form from the Registrar General’s Office before preparing the relevant documentation.
Registry of Births, Deaths & MarriagesLevel 10, 141 St Georges TerracePERTH WA 6000Telephone: 1300 305 021 or visit the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages website.
Access the template 'Consent to marriage' from the 'templates' tab in the young person's '360 degree view' in Assist and insert all relevant details to the template submission for approval.
There is no need to prepare a letter for the district director’s signature to the Registrar General. The young person presents the documentation with the consent form to the magistrate.
Submit the documentation to your team leader. The team leader checks, considers, endorses and forwards the submission to the district director for approval.
The district director considers and approves the submission, if appropriate. If the matter is contentious, the district director should forward the submission to the relevant Executive Director for endorsement.
If the submission is approved, child protection worker informs the young person, his or her parents and carers that consent has been approved, and arranges for the young person to collect the documentation for presentation to a magistrate at the Family Court.
Note: The Registrar General’s Office has advised that a magistrate may not give permission for the young person to marry even though consent has been obtained from the district director. In these instances, the young person must wait until he or she is 18 years of age to marry.
Child protection workers must:
record relevant details in the Quarterly Care Review and ‘Person’ Details in Assist
scan the documents and save them to the young person’s Child History File in Objective, and
place the original documents in the young person’s Child History Folder.