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1.1.1 Parent and adolescent conflict

Last Modified: 22-Mar-2022 Review Date: 01-Jul-2018

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation



The paramount consideration is the best interests of the child and every child should be treated as a valued member of society in a manner that respects the child's dignity and privacy. 

Where the Department of Communities (the Department) is contacted about concerns relating to parent and adolescent conflict, you must record an interaction in Assist.

Where possible and appropriate, you should engage with the parents, or person with parental responsibility, to seek their views on the concerns, before seeking information from external sources about the young person or the family. If this action poses an unacceptable risk to the young person's wellbeing, your team leader or designated senior officer must approve the delay in contacting the parents. However, you should contact the parents as soon as practicable after information is sought from external sources.

If there are concerns about a young person, individual or family's safety and wellbeing, and further inquiries are necessary, you must intake the concern.    

After conducting initial inquiries, if there are concerns for the safety and wellbeing of the young person, individual or family, you must conduct a child safety investigation (CSI) with a harm assessment when harm or risk of harm is of concern.

You must refer to Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation.

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

  • You must be sensitive to the feelings of distress and powerlessness experienced by parents in these situations and support them appropriately.  You may also need to support the young person to stay safe by discussing safety strategies with both the young person and their parents.
Process Maps

Not applicable.

Information and Instructions

  • Assessment and follow up options
  • Request for a young person to leave home, or when a young person refuses to return home
  • If the young person chooses to leave home
  • Financial support for children who have left home
  • Assessment and follow up options

    The priority of your response should be decided on the urgency of assessing whether the young person's wellbeing and safety is at risk, and what actions, if any, are required to protect the young person, and not necessarily on the significance of harm experienced.

    You should attempt mediation to assist the parents and the young person, and enable the young person to return to, or remain in, the family home.  It is also important that you mediate with the young person and the family about the issues that created the situation. Alternatively, consider a referral to a mediation service as an option for resolution of the conflict. In some situations, the conflict may be extreme and resolutions may never be achieved. Alternative accommodation may then need to be found.

    You must consider if a CSI is required - refer to Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation. If not, follow up options may include:

    • Department provision of mediation, counselling and problem solving services
    • a referral to Parent Support - refer to Chapter 1.2 Parent Support, or
    • a referral to external services for families facing parent-adolescent conflict. 

    Request for a young person to leave home, or when a young person refuses to return home

    You must consider the following points:  

    • The young person and his or her parents should be involved in making plans about the young person’s living arrangements.

    • Offering a hostel or care arrangement to the young person in the first instance is not recommended.

    • Consider accommodation with extended family members or family friends acceptable to both the young person and their parents.

    • Arrange or facilitate a meeting under s.32(1)(b) of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.  At this meeting, if a person is identified by the family as able to provide care and accommodation for the young person in a private agreement, no written agreement is required. In this situation, the young person is not in the CEO’s care and no case management is required. However any decisions, including referral, should be recorded as an interaction task in Assist.

    • Emergency and short term negotiated agreements (NPA) should only occur when all other appropriate options have been considered. An NPA must be undertaken with the parents’ consent - refer to Chapter 3.4: Negotiated placement agreements.

    • In cases where the young person has already left home, you should make an assessment on contact with the young person and the parents, separately or together. Ultimately, a young person’s return home is likely to be dependent on there being no protective issues regarding the return and the parents providing an environment conducive to the young person’s return.  

    • A CSI must be undertaken if you need to gather information when initial inquiries identifies concerns about the young person’s wellbeing, harm or significant harm and/or the parent’s capacity to protect the young person.  

    • Children under 16 years of age who are in engaging in sexual activity are under the legal age of consent (refer to Chapter 1.1: Sexually active young people).  Where parents are concerned about the sexual activity of their child, but your team leader is satisfied there are no child protection issues requiring the Department's intervention, refer the parents to the Western Australia Police (WA Police). Other options may include family planning or other counselling for the young person. 

    • In some cases, parents may decide they want nothing to do with their child or refuse to have them home. In such cases you must advise the parents of their parental responsibility, irrespective of whether or not the young person returns home and engage parents in making plans for their child. 

    • In situations where a parent or guardian refuses to participate in planning, cannot be found, or is not available, you should discuss the reasons for his or her unavailability and your efforts to engage the parents with your team leader and document these. You must consider whether the young person needs protection, and whether intervention action is required.


    If the young person chooses to leave home

    You must consider the following points:  

    • While parents are responsible for the proper protection and care of their children up until the age of 18 years, there is no ‘legal age’ for adolescents to leave home without parental consent.

    • There are circumstances where some families cannot stay together. This may be due to a long-standing conflict involving violence and harm. You must assess the situation to determine whether the young person is in need of protection. If the situation does not involve protection issues, another option may be a placement service under s.32(1)(a) of the Act.

    • Our preferred option is that the young person lives within their extended family while maintaining links with his or her family. You may assist the family to restore a relationship that will enable the young person to return home or move to long-term stable accommodation

    • In supporting the young person and family to make accommodation arrangements, you must consider the young person’s cultural and linguistic background and the need for maintenance of links to culture. Refer to Chapter 3.4 Child placement principle for further information.

    • When a young person is living in an unendorsed placement, you must assess the young person’s competence as a mature child or adolescent - refer to the resource Gillick Principle for more information on assessing a child's competence.

    • In consultation with parents, you must determine if the unendorsed placement requires assessment by the parents or by the Department.  Refer to Chapter 1.3 Homeless young people. for further information.


    Financial support for children who have left home

    Financial support is available from the Department to assist the young person and/or the family, either as part of a case plan to work with the family, or when the young person has left home. Refer to Chapter 1.3 Homeless young people for further information.