Often used words


Postponing the hearing or mention of a case for a specified amount of time.


Adoption is a legal process that transfers the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood from a child’s birth parents to a new set of (adoptive) parents. Adoption removes the legal relationship between the child and his or her birth parents and extended family.


The right and responsibility to care for and make decisions about the day-to-day needs of a child.


The legal responsibility for making decisions about the long-term care, wellbeing and development of the child. This includes decisions about medical procedures and enrolment in school.


Communicating with, seeing or spending time with a child. This may include telephone or face-to-face, unsupervised or supervised, in the home or at a specified location. It also includes forms of social media like Facebook and email.

Interim custody

On the adjournment of a proceeding for a court assessment or child protection order the Childrens Court has the power to make an interim order. ‘Interim’ means ‘in the meantime’.

  • An interim order made on adjournment of a court assessment order may grant temporary custody to the Chief Executive, or the child’s parents.
  • An interim child protection order made on adjournment of a child protection order can grant custody to a family member or the Chief Executive.

In some cases the court will consider the circumstances in which the child can have contact with the parents during the adjournment period.

Significant harm

Any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. Harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse or exploitation. Harm can be caused by a single act, omission or circumstance; or a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances.

For harm to be significant, the detrimental effect on a child’s wellbeing must be substantial or serious, more than transitory and must be demonstrable in the child’s presentation, functioning or behaviour.

Family group meeting

A family group meeting is held by Child Safety Services to develop or review a case plan when they believe that a child or young person is in need of protection.

  • It provides an opportunity for families to be involved in decisions about their child, and builds on the strengths and resources within the child or young person’s family group, cultural community and wider community.
  • The family group meeting is organised by a convenor who prepares and facilitates the meeting.
  • The convenor may be a departmental officer or a person independent of Child Safety Services

The family group meeting brings together the child or young person (where appropriate), the family, those who best know the child and their family, and other relevant persons and agencies, such as a Recognised Entity for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child or young person.

A person’s mere attendance at a family group meeting cannot be used as an admission of anything alleged against them in child protection proceedings.  Neither can a person’s participation in the development of, or agreement to, a case plan.  However, any information relayed through a family group meeting may still be used in evidence in a child protection proceeding.

Court ordered conference

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 get an agreement between you and Child Safety Services, to avoid going to a hearing.

Case plan

A case plan for a child is a written plan for meeting the child’s protection and care needs. It is developed in a ‘Family Group Meeting’ between Child Safety Services, the child, their family and other people significant to the child and family. It records the goal and outcomes of ongoing intervention and identifies the agreed tasks that will occur to meet the goal and outcomes.

Although case plans will form part of the evidence in a child protection proceeding, a person’s participation in the development of, or agreement to, a case plan cannot be used as an admission of anything alleged against them in child protection proceedings.


A placement describes the place where a child resides when they are in the care of Child Safety Services.

Social assessment report

A social assessment report includes information about your child’s history, living situation, views and wishes based on interviews, Child Safety Services’ records and previous reports. It also provides an independent opinion on the best way to protect your child’s best interests.

A social assessment report is written by accredited social workers, psychologists or another professional considered by the court or tribunal to be an independent expert in child protection.

The court and tribunal will consider the report’s recommendations when deciding whether a child protection order should be put in place for your child.


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Courts and Tribunals

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Abbreviations that you may hear