These guidelines provide information about the management of unaccompanied humanitarian minors (UHM) whose guardianship is delegated to the CEO fo the Department of Communities by the Minister for Home Affairs, through the Department of Home Affairs.
A UHM is a child under 18 years of age who has entered Australia without a family member to care for them. Upon arrival in Australia the UHM is placed under the guardianship of the Minister for Home Affairs.
In some cases, the Minister for Home Affairs may delegate the guardianship of an UHM to the Department through an 'Australian Government delegation'. This occurs as a function of the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) (IGOC) Act 1946.
This normally occurs when a 'nominated custodian' has offered, or has been nominated by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to care for the UHM. The Department must assess this person and the potential care arrangement and determine whether guardianship is accepted.
A UHM is not a child in the CEO's care as defined in the Children and Community Services Act 2004.
When an 'Australian Government delegation' is agreed and the Department accepts delegated guardianship, we provide the same level of case management and support to the UHM as is provided to children in the CEO's care on behalf of the DHA.
Requests from DHA in relation to UHMs are made in writing to the CEO. Requests may be one of three types:
UHM requests are processed in the following manner:
Although the CEO has the delegated guardianship of the UHM, the Minister for Home Affairs retains guardianship and ultimate responsibility for the UHM.
Nominated UHM custodians must undergo Department record checks, WWC checks and an assessment.
For UHMs up to and including 15 years of age at the time of the DHA delegation request the assessment should be undertaken as per Chapter 3.1: Family or significant other care.
For UHMs who are 16 or 17 years old at the time of the DHA delegation request, the assessment should be undertaken as a 'Private Living Arrangement' assessment—a streamlined assessment process focusing on the needs of the young person for support toward independence and settlement in Australia. For more information about this process refer to Guidelines for UHM Private Living Arrangement Assessment (16 and 17 years old) (in related resources).
If a nominated custodian has not formally signed for their appointment as custodian with DHA when referred to Department:
If the nominated custodian declines their appointment the assessment must not proceed. The child protection worker must advise the PPPO, who in turn must advise DHA.
Where the Department is requested to identify an appropriate care arrangement, child protection workers must apply the Child Placement Principle when placing children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds. This information is available in Chapter 3.4: Child placement principle.
Approved custodians of UHMs aged 15 years and under at the time of the DHA delegation request are eligible for a foster care subsidy to support the care arrangement. Information on the subsidy application process is available in Chapter 3.5: Case management costs - basic subsidy provisions. UHM custodians are also entitled to a Maintenance Allowance (MA) that is provided by the Commonwealth. This MA is paid concurrently with the foster care subsidy until the child reaches 16 years of age.
Custodians of UHMs who are 16 and 17 years of age at the time of the DHA delegation request should not receive a foster care subsidy, as the young person is entitled to Centrelink benefits, and financial arrangements must be negotiated between the UHM and the custodian for their living costs.
A UHM and their custodian may be entitled to services under the Humanitarian Settlement Program or the Settlement Engagaement and Transition Support (SETS) Program (SGP). Child protection workers should liaise with the HSP or SGP provider located in their district to check which services are available.
UHMs requiring immigration-related legal information should be referred to their allocated HSP or SGP worker who will direct them to the most appropriate community or legal organisation.
Child protection workers should record UHM cases on Assist as follows:
Primary issue: “Child Protection”
Upon acceptance of guardianship:
Child protection workers also need to record relevant identity information in Assist. Refer to Assist User Guide – Update a Person's Information in related resources. On the 'Details' tab, record available Identity Types, for example, Medicare or Health Care Card numbers, passport number etc. Then select the 'Immigration' tab, complete the child's Immigration and Visa details.
Child protection workers must develop care plans and cultural plans for UHMs aged 15 years and under. Child protection workers must also provide copies of the Quarterly Care Reports to the UHM Contact Officer via email: email@example.com. The UHM Contact Officer can also be contacted via:
UHM and Guardian Section Child Wellbeing Branch Health Services Policy and Child Wellbeing Division Corporate and Enabling Group Department of Home Affairs Ph: 02 6122 5523 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UHM and Guardian Section
Child Wellbeing Branch
Health Services Policy and Child Wellbeing Division
Corporate and Enabling Group
Department of Home Affairs
Ph: 02 6122 5523
When developing a health care plan, child protection workers should note that children entering Australia under the humanitarian program are generally required to attend an assessment with the Humanitarian Entrant Health Service (HEHS). Child protection workers should inform the relevant community or school health nurse of the HEHS assessment. The HEHS should be notified that the child protection worker is the contact person for all necessary HEHS correspondence for the period the UHM's guardianship is delegated to the Department.
Under the IGOC regulations, custodians must notify the Department about any serious incidents involving a UHM in their care. This information must be passed on to the Department's PPPO. PPPO must advise DHA via email@example.com immediately.
In order to improve settlement outcomes, the Department may request an extension of case management arrangements for those UHMs whom it considers will benefit from continued support after meeting a requirement to exit — for example, turning 18 years of age, becoming an Australian citizen, or having a parent arrive in Australia.
There is no set format for extension requests; an email outlining the reasons is sufficient. If the need for an extension of case management for a particular UHM is identified, child protection workers must write to the to the UHM Contact Officer for WA via email firstname.lastname@example.org outlining the rationale for that request at least one month before the UHM’s scheduled exit date.
For more information about this process refer to Tip Sheet: How to submit a request for a service extension under the UHM programme (in related resources).
UHMs are also entitled to financial assistance through the Federal Government’s Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA). The TILA is managed by the Department of Social Services (DSS) and enables eligible young people to buy material goods or access opportunities that support their transition to independent living. TILA is generally accessed through our funded leaving care services on behalf of young people leaving care. More information about this process is available on the TILA website.
UHMs cease to be wards of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection upon:
In these cases, the Department should consider closing its involvement with the UHM.
The PPPO must be notified of allocation and case closure dates for all UHMs.