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2.1.3 Persons refusing access to or failing to hand over a child in a care arrangement

Last Modified: 28-Jun-2018 Review Date: 31-Oct-2009

Purpose

To provide guidance to child protection workers in situations where a child’s carer, parent or another person who has the care or control of a child who is the subject of a care arrangement, refuses access to the child or fails to hand over the child to a child protection worker if required to do so.

​Note: Care arrangement means placement arrangement.

Practice Requirements

  • Child protection workers must be able to sight a child in his or her care arrangement. Child protection workers also need to be able to collect the child from the carer (or a parent or another person who has the care and control of the child) to facilitate contact visits, attend appointments and for a range of other case management responsibilities.
  • If a carer (or a parent or another person who has the care or control of a child) refuses to allow access to a child in a care arrangement, or refuses to hand over a child if required to under s.84 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act), the appropriateness of the care arrangement must be reviewed immediately. Discussions should also occur with the Child Protection Legal Unit regarding other possible legal action.​

Note: The Department refers to the Department of Communities (Communities).

Process Maps

Not applicable

Procedures

  • Overview
  • When a person who has the care and control of a child in a care arrangement refuses to hand over the child
  • Assessment of a carer or parent’s capacity to work collaboratively with Communities
  • Safety concerns
  • Overview

    Section 84 of the Act enables an authorised officer to require the handover of a child, who is the subject of a placement arrangement (placement arrangement means an arrangement under s.79(2) of the Act, for the placement of a child) from a carer, a parent or any other person who has the care or control of the child.

    Non-compliance with such a requirement carries a penalty of $12,000 or imprisonment for one year.

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    When a person who has the care and control of a child in a care arrangement refuses to hand over the child

    Child protection workers need to determine the reasons behind a carer, parent, or another person who has the care or control of a child, refusing to hand over the child.

    Where possible, child protection workers should engage with the carer, parent or other person to resolve the issue. For example, it might be appropriate to engage in discussion with the carer if they are refusing to allow a child to attend a therapy appointment because the carer believes this is distressing for the child. 

    In cases involving culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) families, if the child protection worker believes specific cultural factors are contributing to the situation they should:   

    • discuss these issues with the child's carer, parent or other person
    • discuss these issues with the child's broader family and/or community to identify solutions, and/or
    • refer to the CaLD Resource Library (in related resources) for additional information about cultural and/or religious issues that should be considered in case or care planning.  
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    Assessment of a carer or parent’s capacity to work collaboratively with Communities

    The issue of care arrangment stability and carer continuity needs to be assessed against the carer and parent’s capacity to work collaboratively and cooperatively with Communities to support the child. Wherever possible, it is preferable to assist the carer or parent to work with Communities than to seek a warrant (apprehension) from the Court to remove and place the child elsewhere (s.122 of the Act).

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    Safety concerns

    An application under s.85 of the Act should be made immediately where there are safety concerns as a result of the carer’s, parent’s or other person’s refusal to hand over the child or allow access to the child in the care arrangement. 

    Any decision to make an application under s.85 of the Act must be made through consultation with the team leader, district director and the Child Protection Legal Unit.

    There may be circumstances where a carer, parent or other person is assessed as not posing a risk to the child but they consistently refuse access to the child.  This pattern of refusing access needs to be discussed with the team leader and a response must be developed.

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