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Release of care placement information

Children and young people entering care come with a network of relationships. Providing information about a child’s placement to parents and other significant people in their lives can help maintain those relationships and support a young person’s sense of belonging and identity. Providing this information can also help provide a smooth transition from care back to home.

The law

Following extensive consultation with carers, a new law was introduced in March 2007 to establish requirements for providing placement information to parents and significant others. This law:

  • considers the safety, welfare and well-being of children and young people, their carers and the carer’s family or household
  • provides opportunities for children and young people, their carers and significant others to participate in decisions about the release of placement information
  • identifies the significant people to children or young people as those with whom they have a close bond
  • enables carers to appeal decisions about the release of placement information, via internal review and the Administrative Decisions Tribunal
  • provides clear details about when information is given and to whom.

What information may be given?

Two different types of information may be released:

  • General (non-identifying) or
  • High level (identifying) information

1. General (non-identifying)

Includes information about significant events in the life of the child or young person or contextual contact information that does not identify the placement. Examples include:

  • first name of authorised carer or carers
  • culture and language spoken in the authorised carers’ household
  • general household composition details (number of children, age of children)
  • the religion of the authorised carer or carers
  • pets and types of accommodation
  • births, deaths and life threatening illness or accidents of key people that have impact on child or young person’s life
  • moving house or school (the event, not address)
  • departure or arrival of other (non-idenitified) children or young people in the household
  • post office box address (where this does not identify that the authorised carers live or work in a particular small community)
  • carer or carers’ mobile phone number
  • child or young person’s mobile phone number

2. High level (identifying)

This information identifies where the child and carers live, work or attend school. Actual placement details including names and addresses of carers are given to parent/s only if it is assessed that there is no risk to the safety, welfare or wellbeing of the child or young person, the carer or members of the carer household.

Carers must be asked for written consent to the release of this information.

Examples include:

  • surname of carer or carers and others in their household
  • street address and locality of the placement
  • landline phone number of the placement
  • description of carer or carers’ work role or activities which may lead to identification of work location or identity (for example, high school teacher in Bathurst or Scout leader in Windsor)
  • name of the school the child or young person attends or a description that may lead to identifying the location (for example, High School in Armidale)

Who issues and receives this information?

The designated out-of-home care agency is responsible for providing information and gaining the carer’s written consent to release high level identification information. Parents and significant others, such as siblings and grandparents, may receive information only if it does not pose any risk to the safety, welfare or wellbeing of the child or young person, their carer or any member of the carer’s household. Significant others may also include previous long term carers.

When is information not given?

High level identification placement information will not be released where there is a risk to the safety, welfare and well being of the child or young person, their carer or members of the carer’s household. The wishes of the carer and the child or young person will be considered when making the decision to provide or withhold this information.

How can a carer appeal the release of information?

If you disagree with that decision, you can appeal to have it reconsidered. There are a number of steps you must follow to appeal a decision.

The information in the following table describes the steps involved in an appeal. It also shows the amount of time you have to complete each step. The first step in an appeal is to ask the agency to do an internal review. No information will be given out until the internal review has been completed.

Information about appealing the release on information also appears on this factsheet Out of home care: legal assistance for carers PDF, 450.21 KB

Appealing to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

If you are not happy with a decision after an internal review has been completed, you can ask the agency to apply to NCAT on your behalf. You might need to seek legal representation. All applications to NCAT are assessed by an independent panel and the agency will not be allowed to release your information until the proceedings are finished. If you apply, NCAT will ask the agency to prove that giving out this information will not put anyone’s safety at risk, including your safety, the safety of your family/household, or the child or young person in your care.

Financial assistance for legal costs

You can apply to Communities and Justice (DCJ) for financial assistance to help towards your legal costs. Information about how you can do this is also in the attached table. DCJ has no duty or commitment to give you any more financial assistance for your application than what is outlined in the table for your legal expenses.

Review and appeal process

Step Time frameWhoActionDetails
1 Within 21 days of the agency writing to tell you that they have decided to give out high level information Carer Ask for an internal review If you disagree with the decision to give out high level information and would like the agency to reconsider, ask the agency to review the decision.
2 Within 21 days of the date on the letter telling you about the results of the internal review Carer Think about the decision made as a result of the internal review You can write to the agency asking them to apply to NCAT on your behalf if: 1. the decision to release high level information is upheld; and 2. you continue to disagree with the reasons provided by the agency.
3 As soon as possible Carer Choose a legal representative You are responsible for choosing and instructing your legal representative. Your legal representative is independent of the agency.
4 As soon as possible after you’ve chosen your legal representative Carer Send a letter to the General Counsel, DCJ Legal Community Services Write to DCJ and give them the name and contact details of your legal representative.
5 Within seven days of getting the letter telling you that the agency has applied to the NCAT Carer Send papers to the General Counsel, DCJ Legal Send a copy of the following documents to DCJ Legal: * your original letter asking for the application to be made * the outcome of the internal review including the reasons why the information is to be released.
6 Shortly after being told you have chosen a legal representative DCJ DCJ will send a letter to your legal representative DCJ Legal will write a letter to your legal representative to give them the following advice about the financial assistance available and the conditions for payment:
1. an invoice must be received by DCJ within 12 months of being issued by the legal representative.
2. the invoice must specify that it concerns an NCAT application for a review of the decision to give out high level placement information. The invoice cannot include any work done before the application was filed with the NCAT.
3. the invoice must give details of the amount of time the legal representative spent on your case.
4. reimbursement will not be paid for disbursements
5. all invoices must be sent to you within 12 months of the NACT finishing its review of the decision.
7 Shortly after getting invoices from your legal representative Carer Send invoices to the General Counsel, DCJ Legal Services Branch Shortly after getting each invoice send it to the General Counsel DCJ Legal.
8 As soon as possible DCJ DCJ Legal will send payments directly to your legal representative Payment will be made at $330.00 per hour for each hour the invoice says the legal representative worked on your application to the NCAT. $10,000.00 is the most DCJ will pay to your legal representative when all the invoices for your case are added up. No payments will be made directly to you.

Contacts

NCAT
1300 006 228 select Option 3

DCJ Legal General Counsel
DCJ Legal Department of Family and Community Services
Locked Bag 4028, ASHFIELD 2131

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Last updated: 18 Oct 2019