Guardianship orders aim to provide greater stability for children and young people when the Children’s Court makes a decision that they cannot live with their parents. Guardianship orders are a way of helping ensure 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 years old. They have full care and responsibility for a child or young person in their care. This includes making decisions about health and education, as well as managing contact between a child or young person and their parents, family and important people in their lives. A guardian also ensures their emotional, social, cultural and spiritual needs are met.
The Children’s Court can make a guardianship order for a child or young person who is in need of care and protection or who is in out-of-home care.
If a guardianship order is made the child or young person will still have contact with their parents, family and important people in their life, as long as it is safe to do so.
If the child or young person is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or from a different cultural background to their guardian, they will still maintain connections with their culture and community. They will have a cultural support plan that identifies their cultural needs. Guardians follow this plan and encourages and facilitates the child or young person to participate in cultural activities and events.
Guardians receive an allowance, known as a guardianship allowance, to enable them to meet the needs of the child or young person. This allowance is the same rate as the FACS statutory care allowance and is based on the individual needs of the child or young person.
Guardians can get help, support and advice from local services including child and family support, family counselling, health services, youth programs, disability and child care services. Local Community Services Centres may be able to help guardians contact these services.
Guardians may also be eligible for support from the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) which delivers a range of Australian Government benefits and concessions.
On 29 October 2014, relative and kinship carers who had an order from the Children’s Court giving them full parental responsibility for a child or young person transitioned to guardianship orders. This meant that relative and kinship carers who had full parental responsibility for a child or young person in their care became 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.
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 wishing 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 capable to do so.
The Children’s Court makes the final decision about a guardianship order being made.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a guardian, speak to your caseworker or contact your local Community Services Centre. You can also call the guardian information line on 1300 956 416.