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