Child Protection Orders

Temporary Custody Orders (TCO) and Temporary Assessment Orders (TAO)

These orders can be made by a Childrens Court Magistrate to put a child in the custody of Child Safety Services for up to three days. They can be extended for an additional day and if Child Safety Services applies for another order before it expires, they will be continue to run until the next order is mentioned in court.

These orders allow a Magistrate to:

  • order a medical examination.
  • allow the Queensland Police Service or a Child Safety Officer to have contact with the child.
  • allow the Queensland Police Service or a Child Safety Officer to enter and search the premises if the parents have denied access, and, if necessary, take the child into care.
  • direct a parent not to have contact with a child, or only to have supervised contact with the child.

The parents are not required to be notified of the application and the Magistrate can make the order without the parents being present.

The main difference between a TCO and a TAO is that for a TCO, Child Safety Services has already decided that there is a child in need of protection for whom they will be applying for an order, whereas for a TAO they are still investigating and assessing.

A Magistrate may make a TCO if he or she is satisfied that a child is at an unacceptable risk of harm if the Magistrate does not make the order and that Child Safety Services will be able to decide the most appropriate action to meet the child’s needs and start taking that action during the order.

A Magistrate may make a TAO if:

  • the Magistrate is satisfied that an investigation is necessary to assess whether the child is a child in need of protection, and
  • the investigation cannot be properly carried out unless the order is made, and
  • the Magistrate is satisfied reasonable steps have been taken to obtain appropriate parental consent to the doing of the things sought to be authorised.

A court hearing is not held and a Magistrate can issue this order by telephone, fax or radio.

If you have become aware that a TCO or TAO application is going to be made and you believe that any of the above steps have not been adhered to, such as you have not been asked for your consent to do the things sought, you can request to be heard by the Magistrate before any order is made.

Child Safety Services or the Queensland Police Service must give you a copy of the order and explain it to you as soon as practicable.

Court Assessment Order (CAO)

These orders last for 28 days.

The four week time period for a court assessment order starts to run from the date when the application is first heard by the court. In other words, if Child Safety Services apply for a  CAO and the matter is adjourned for two weeks, when they return to court after the adjournment they can only apply to have the order granted for the remaining two weeks of the four week total.

The parents should be notified of when the order will be heard by the Magistrate. The Magistrate should only make the order if he or she is satisfied that the parents have been given reasonable notice of the hearing and fail to attend, or that it was not practicable to give the parents notice of the hearing.

A CAO may be extended once, for up to 28 days.

The decision to apply for a child protection order

If Child Safety Services decide that it is necessary to apply for a Child Protection Order, they must prepare a “brief of evidence” to the Director of Child Protection Litigation.

The brief of evidence contains the affidavits, reports and other evidence which they rely on to prove that there should be a Child Protection Order.

The Director of Child Protection Litigation then makes the decision about whether they will apply for an order, and if so, what type and length of order they will apply for.

Child protection orders

A Child Protection Order is an order made by the Court where it has been decided that the child is a child in need of protection. Before making a Child Protection Order, the Director of Child Protection Litigation must satisfy the Magistrate that:

  • the child has suffered or is suffering significant harm, or there is an unacceptable risk of significant harm to the child, and
  • there is no parent able and willing to protect the child from that harm

Before a child protection order is made the court
looks at:

  • Evidence about whether the child is in need of protection and whether an order is “appropriate and desirable” for the child’s protection. This might include things like affidavits (witness statements) from Child Safety workers and independent experts, a parent’s criminal history, domestic violence history, traffic history and reports by Child Safety Services (and other relevant reports about adult members of your household
  • Whether parent/s have been given the court documents (or reasonable attempts have been made by Child Safety Services to do this)
  • Whether an appropriate case plan has been made and given to the court
  • If the order has been contested, whether a court ordered conference has been held (or reasonable attempts to hold a conference have been made)> whether the child’s wishes or views have been made known to the court (if possible)
  • Whether the protection of the child can be achieved by less intrusive terms? (This means thinking about questions like: ‘does the order have to be for two years or is one year enough?’)

Types of court orders

Type of Order
Maximum Length of Time
Meaning

Temporary Assessment Order

(TAO)

3 days, extendable up to 3 business days, and if Child Safety Services intend to apply for another order, it can continue to run until the new order is mentioned in court. This order is sought when Child Safety Services is still assessing if the child is in need of protection and whether a child protection order is required.

They can provide for the immediate custody of the child, authorisation of medical treatment and restriction of contact with a parent until an application for a Court Assessment Order or child protection order may be made to the court.

Court Assessment Order

(CAO)

28 days after the day the hearing is first brought before the court.

 

An application to extend the order for up to 28 days can only be made once.

This order is sought when Child Safety Services is still assessing if a child is in need of protection and whether a child protection order is required.

The types of temporary custody orders can include one of or more of the following:

· having contact with the child

· granting custody of the child to Child Safety

· directing how much time a parent/other person should have supervised with the child

· authorising a child to undergo medical treatment or examination

A party has 28 days from the time the order is made to appeal against the decision of the court to grant a CAO.

Temporary Custody Order

(TCO)

3 days, extendable up to 3 business days, and if Child Safety Services intend to apply for another order, it can continue to run until the new order is mentioned in court. These orders are used where Child Safety Services has decided that they are going to apply for a child protection order and that there is no need for a further assessment order.

They can provide for the immediate custody of the child, authorisation of medical treatment and restriction of contact with a parent until an application may be heard by the court.

Directive Order

1 year This is the least intrusive child protection order. This directs a parent to do or not do something to protect the child. This order can also direct a parent or other person to only have supervised time with the child.

Protective Supervision Order (PSO)

1 year This order allows Child Safety Services to supervise the child’s wellbeing and protection while the child remains in a parent’s care.

Short-Term Custody Order

2 years This order grants custody of the child to Child Safety Services or a suitable family member.

Short-Term Guardianship

2 years This order grants short-term guardianship to Child Safety Services.

Transition Order

28 Days In some but not all circumstances Child Safety Services can make an application to the court for a transition period from the child’s reunification back to the child’s home.

The court can make this order on its own if it decides it is appropriate.

Long-Term Guardianship

Until child turns 18 years This order grants long-term guardianship to Child Safety Services, a suitable family member or other person.

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Departments, lawyers and other participants in child protection proceedings

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