Court Ordered Conferences are meetings that are held if you contest the application made by Child Safety Services.
An independent chairperson runs the meeting, and the aim is to try to resolve the matters that are in dispute in the proceeding.
Usually, if a party is not consenting to the order then a COC must be held, or reasonable attempts to hold a conference must be made before the court can make a Child Protection Order. However, a court may dispense with the requirement in somes cases, for example, where there are concerns about the safety of a party if a conference were held and the court is satisfied this outweighs the potential benefit of holding the conference.
The court may also multiple COCs be held at different stages in the proceedings to address different issues as they arise.
The meeting may run in a similar way to the family group meeting, using a structure such as:
- What are we worried about?
- What is working well?
- What needs to happen?
However, unlike in a family group meeting, the focus of these questions should be on how these matters relate to the disagreement between Child Safety Services and the parent about the order that the court is being asked to make.
Consider, if I am not prepared to accept the order that Child Safety Services is asking the court to make, can I offer to agree to a different order, or a shorter order?
You could consider what length of time you believe is required to achieve the case plan goals and ask Child Safety Services to justify why they are asking for the length of time they have specified.