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3.2.11 Sterilisation of a child in care with intellectual disability

Last Modified: 21-Aug-2019 Review Date: 30-Apr-2010


To provide guidance to child protection workers regarding the sterilisation of a child in the care of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department of Communities with intellectual disability.

Practice Requirements

Not applicable

Process Maps

Not applicable


  • Family Court application
  • Information provided to the district director
  • Family Court application

    The Family Court has sole responsibility for decision making in relation to the sterilisation of a child.   The Department does not have the power to confirm or reject a request for the sterilisation of a child in the CEO’s care.

    Our primary role is to make an assessment about whether we will make or support an application to the Family Court. Some of the key issues which need to be considered include the following:

    • The best interests of the child is the paramount consideration. 
    • That sterilisation would be the most appropriate form of treatment to maintain the child’s health, safety and wellbeing, or is necessary to save the child’s life or prevent serious damage to the child’s health. 
    • Sterilisation is the procedure of last resort, and must relate to existing rather than future or anticipated problems. There must be proof that other less invasive procedures to treat the medical condition and/or all available means of counselling, training, practical support have been exhausted and failed. 
    • Assessments recommending sterilisation need to be supported by psychological and medical assessments which recommend that this procedure is in the child’s best interests. The long and short term consequences of such action being carried out, or not carried out, also need to be considered.
    • The views of the significant parties should be sought, including those of the child, the parents, the guardians and/or the person responsible for the child’s daily care.

    Information provided to the district director

    If consideration regarding the sterilisation of a child in the care of the CEO with intellectual disability arises, the issue must be raised with the district director.  The district director may convene a meeting, in the first instance, with the relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director, General Manager Professional Practice Unit and General Counsel.

    Child protection workers can refer to the Memorandum of understanding between the Department and the Public Advocate in related resources.