The court and Child Safety Services must consider the following principles when they make decisions about child protection. You can talk to Child Safety Services workers about these principles when meeting with them and negotiating with them
In all decisions, the most important principle is that the safety, wellbeing and best interests of a child are paramount.
The views of the child affected by the decision should be sought and taken into account as appropriate.
If required, these people should be given help to understand a decision and their rights to respond to a decision.
Families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing, protection and development of the child and should be supported in this.
The preferred way of ensuring a child’s safety and wellbeing is through the support of their family.
If a child is removed from their family, support should be given to the child and family to allow the child to return home if it is in the child’s best interests.
If a child is removed from their family, as a first option, consideration should be given to placing the child with kin and to the extent possible, children should be placed together with their siblings.
A child should have stable living arrangements that provide a connection with their family and community to the extent that is in the child’s best interests, and provide for their development, educational, emotional, health, intellectual and physical needs to be met.
A child should be able to maintain relationships with their family and kin and to know, explore and maintain the child’s identity and values including their cultural, ethnic and religious identity and values, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Decision-making should be done in a way that is open, fair and respectful of the rights of each person that is affected by the decision.
Privacy should be respected where possible.
The court must consider whether an ‘order on less intrusive terms’ would be sufficient to protect the child from the harm.
To consider this requirement, the court may ask: Does this order have to be for two years or is one enough? Can the order be for supervision rather than custody or custody rather than guardianship?
For example, when an order seeking guardianship until the child is 18 is sought, the court would consider whether a shorter order, such as a two year custody order would be sufficient to protect the child from the harm.
When making a significant decision about a child, Child Safety Services must give a recognised entity (an independent Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander agency) for the child to an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
If the Childrens Court exercises a power in relation to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, it must consider Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander traditions and customs relating to the child.
All consultations, negotiations, meetings and proceedings involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be conducted in a way and in a place that is appropriate to Aboriginal tradition or Island custom.
An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child should be cared for within an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community, if possible, and the child should be helped to maintain a connection with their culture and help to preserve and enhance the child’s sense of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identity.