To outline the processes, legal obligations and responsibilities when considering or working with a child who is under a protection order (supervision).
Under s.10 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act), you need to apply the principle 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 ensure the child is able to participate in the decision making process, the child must be given:
Note: Care arrangements are referred to as "placement arrangements" in the Children and Community Services Amendment Act 2004. It means an arrangement for the placement of a child with certain persons, made under section 79(2) of the Act.
You must develop a safety plan with the parents that is effective and rigorous enough to keep the children safe from further harm before applying for a protection order (supervision). The safety plan should be reviewed on a regular basis.
Applications to the Children's Court (the Court) for protection orders (supervision) are approved by district directors.
Specify a period for the order in their application to the Court. The period must not exceed two years and end before the child reaches 18 years of age (s.48). The order can only be extended once (s.49).
The Court may place conditions on a protection order (supervision) on its own volition or as per your recommendations, including a condition as to which parent the child is to live with while under the order.
It is a condition of every protection order (supervision) that the child's parent keeps the Department informed about where the child is living.
You must supervise the child's wellbeing while under the order (s.47(1)).
While a protection order (supervision) is in force, you must arrange for social services considered appropriate to be provided for the child and their parent(s) (s.53).
You should conduct a case planning meeting within 20 days of a protection order (supervision) being made by the Court.
If the Department assesses that a child may be in need of protection the Department can take intervention action and apply to the Court for a protection order (supervision) if that is considered to be the most appropriate protection order. Refer to Chapter 2.2 – Conducting a Child Safety Investigation and Chapter 3.3 – Intervention action.
A child on a protection order (supervision) is not a child in the Chief Executive Officer's (CEO's) care because the child's parent/s retain parental responsibility for the child.
A protection order (supervision) authorises you to supervise a child's wellbeing for the duration of the order. The goal is to increase safety over time and support the parent/s to become more protective, while maintaining the stability of the child's living and care arrangements.
The Department can apply for a protection order (supervision) for children as an initial protection application to the Court, or as a replacement of a different protection order to support reunification work with a family.
The Court may make a protection order (supervision) even if the Department seeks another order.
Circumstances where it may be appropriate to apply for a protection order (supervision) are:
This could include the following circumstances:
A protection order (supervision) should be considered where the Department has developed a safety plan with the family and their safety network (including when planning for reunification of children in the CEO's care).
The safety plan is an essential step in establishing transparency and accountability in terms of what the family needs to do to increase safety for their child.
The child's safety plan should be specific, measurable, realistic, timely, achievable and state:
what the Department needs to see the parents doing in order to keep the child safe
how the protection order (supervision) will be monitored and implemented
the estimated time that needed to supervise the child's wellbeing before the child's protective needs are met
the social services or other supports that are required, and
When determining whether to apply for a protection order (supervision) in consultation with the team leader, you should consider the capacity of the parents and the effectiveness of their safety network to increase safety.
The parents need to be committed to taking actions that will demonstrate that their child is safe in their care.To determine whether a protection order (supervision) is likely to be effective, you should consider the following:
level of commitment and cooperation from the parents
the working relationship between the parents and the Department
capacity and effectiveness of the safety network
level of safety if the child was to remain with their parents, and
whether the concerns are likely to be resolved within a timeframe of less than two years.
You should discuss the plan with the parent and/or adult with whom the child is living to ascertain the level of cooperation with the following:
allowing you to visit their child and willingness to be available for arranged meetings
working with you to make and carry out plans for their child
notifying you before any change of address for the child
meeting any conditions the Court may place on the protection order, such as attending counselling or taking their child to appointments.
It is important that you and the parent or an adult with whom the child is living are able to work together to make plans for the child's future, and to find ways to increase safety for the child and address the issues that led to the protection order (supervision) being made.
You must determine the following before applying for a protection order (supervision):
Duration of protection order (supervision)The timeframe sought should reflect:
While the Act allows the Department to apply for a period of up to two years, you should consider applying for a period up to 12 months. This will allow enough time to build a constructive working relationship with the parents and allow parent(s) to demonstrate how they will increase safety, and then maintain those changes.When applying for a protection order (supervision) for a period longer than 12 months (but less than two years) you must include strategies and/or conditions in Form 641 - Written Proposal for Child on:
Conditions of protection order (supervision)It is a condition of every protection order (supervision) that the child's parent keeps the Department informed about where the child is living. The order may also include conditions to be complied with by –
Proposed conditions for the child's parent or an adult with whom the child is living should include where relevant:
Proposed conditions for the child may include, for example, counselling, tutoring, or mentoring. List the proposed conditions in detail and include information on how the conditions will be met, what services will be provided, and how these will benefit the child.From 1 May 2022, the order may also include a condition requiring the child to live with a specified parent (provided they have parental responsibility for the child). For example, a child may be required to live with one parent if family and domestic violence (FDV) is being perpetrated by the other parent. For further information on FDV, refer to Chapters 2.3 – Family and Domestic Violence (s.50(3)). Provision of social services (s.53 of the Act)The social services that will be provided should also be outlined in the proposal. Include specific information about who will provide the service, what services will be provided, and how this is expected to increase safety.
A protection order (supervision) can be applied for when intensive family support is being provided to the family. The case plan should record the decision to apply for a protection order (supervision) and this should be endorsed by the district director.
The case plan can be changed when there is a major change in the child's circumstances, placement or contact.
While the order is in force, your role is to:
Where case support costs are required to implement the case plan, approval is required from the team leader, assistant district director or district director depending on the amount sought. You should refer to Chapter 3.5 – Case management costs: case support costs for further detail.
An application for a protection order (supervision) can be made to replace an existing protection order to support reunification with the child's parents. Record the reasons for this decision in the case plan (family). Refer to Chapter 2.2 – Case allocations, management, transfer, requests for co-working or services and case closure.
When considering a protection order (supervision) for a child who is already in the CEO's care, refer to Chapter 3.4 – Care planning for further information.
You should refer to Chapter 3.3 – Intervention action for detailed procedures when applying for a protection order (supervision).
Where the protection order (supervision) is not complied with, or you consider the order is no longer necessary, a decision should be made about whether to apply to the Court to vary, revoke or replace the order.
This could include circumstances where:
A protection order (supervision) can only be extended once, and the application must be lodged with the Court prior to its expiry.