Paths to permanency
The permanent placement principles provide guidance on finding the best permanent home option for a child or young person. The principles cover preservation, restoration, guardianship, open adoption and parental responsibility to the Minister.
Guardianship orders give children and young people greater stability. These orders are made after a Children’s Court decides that a child or young person cannot live with their parents. Guardianship makes sure a child or young person has a stable, nurturing and safe home without cutting legal ties to their family.
Under a guardianship order, a child or young person is not in foster care or out-of-home care but in the independent care of their guardian.
A guardian is a person who provides a caring, safe home for a child or young person until they turn 18. Guardians have full care and responsibility for a child or young person. They make decisions about health and education, and manage contact between a child or young person and their parents, family and other important people in their lives. A guardian also ensures the child or young person’s emotional, social, cultural and spiritual needs are met.
The Children’s Court can make a guardianship order for a child or young person who needs care and protection or who is currently in out-of-home care. If it is safe to do so, a guardianship order will still give a child or young person contact with their parents, family and other important people in their life.
If a child or young person is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or from a different cultural background to their guardian, they maintain connections with their culture and community through a cultural support plan that identifies their cultural needs. Guardians follow this plan and encourage and support the child or young person to participate in cultural activities and events.
Becoming a guardian
A guardian can be a relative or kinship carer, a family friend or an authorised carer who has an established and positive relationship with the child or young person.
Anyone wanting to become a guardian will go through a detailed review and assessment process. This includes seeking the views of the child or young person, their family and their carer. Children or young people aged 12 years or older must give their written consent to a guardianship order being made, where they are able to do so.
The Children’s Court makes the final decision about a guardianship order.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a guardian, speak to your casework practitioner or contact your local Community Services Centre. You can also call the Guardianship Information Line on 1300 956 416 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In October 2014, the Children’s Court granted guardianship orders to relative and kinship carers who had already been granted full parental responsibility orders. This means relative and kinship carers with full parental responsibility for a child or young person became their guardians.
If there were any additional conditions in the parental responsibility order, such as contact arrangements, these conditions continue as outlined in the final order.
Support for guardians
Guardians receive a guardianship allowance so they can meet the needs of the child or young person. This allowance is the same rate as the DCJ statutory care allowance and is based on the individual needs of the child or young person.
Guardians can get help from a range of local services, including child and family support, family counselling, health services, youth programs and disability and child care services.
Guardians may be able to seek help from their local DCJ Community Services Centre to contact these services.
Guardians may also be eligible for benefits or support from the Department of Human Services (Centrelink).