What happens to a child who is not at risk?
How a child can be protected from harm or further harm, including arranging support for the family and information about Parent Capacity Orders and Parent Responsibility Contracts
Protecting the child from harm or further harm
If the child or young person is found not in "immediate risk of serious harm" after an investigation and assessment has been made, then in most cases, Communities and Justice (DCJ) provides practical help, such as organising child care, emergency finance, counselling or information, and referral to health or other services.
If the situation is more serious, we will develop a plan with the family to protect the child or young person from harm or further harm. This could include counselling and referral to support services for the parents or carers, the child or young person, and any other children or young people in the family.
In some cases, DCJ might take the matter to the Children’s Court and apply for an order. The Court can make a range of orders that include, but are not limited to:
- an assessment order — to authorise a physical, psychiatric or other medical examination of a child or young person, or to authorise an assessment of a person’s capacity to parent
- an order accepting undertakings — the parent makes undertakings to the Court about how they will care for their child or young person in their care
- an order for supervision — allows DCJ to regularly meet with the child or young person
- an order for the provision of support services — a person or organisation is ordered to provide support for the child or young person as specified
- an order allocating parental responsibility, or aspects of it — where parental responsibility is transferred in full or in part, to another person.
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If a child isn’t in immediate danger yet would not be safe living in the house, the caseworker could apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
The advantages of an AVO in this case is that the person alleged to have caused harm to the child or young person can be ordered to leave the house, rather than requiring the child or young person to leave.
If the caseworker doesn't think an AVO would be enough to protect the child or young person, they may consider making a Care Application to the Children’s Court for an order that the child or young person live somewhere else until it's safe again.
In this case, the Court needs to be satisfied that there is no other or better way to protect the child or young person. The Court makes the decision on the basis of information provided to it by Communities and Justice (DCJ), parents, caregivers and sometimes other professionals or people involved.
Under DCJ care
In a small number of matters, the Court can make an order that places the child or young person in DCJ’s care for a period of time.
If this happens, DCJ will arrange a placement for the child or young person, which might be within their extended family (for example, with their grandparents), with an authorised carer, or in alternative accommodation.
In finding a placement for a child or young person, DCJ considers the child or young person's wishes and needs arising from identity, language, cultural and religious ties.
For children or young people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, every effort is made to place the child or young person with extended family, or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family within kinship group, or another Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family within the local community.