- Find out the names of the people who are involved (the Child Safety Officer, Senior Team Leader, Manager), which Child Safety Service Centre is managing your case and the contact telephone number.
- If the children have been removed, ask for any paperwork (there should be a court order or care agreement).
- If Child Safety Services want you to sign something straight away, remember that you don’t have to sign anything at that exact moment. You can ask for time to think about it and get legal advice.
- Keep EVERYTHING that is given to you by Child Safety Services.
- ALWAYS go to court, (even if you are told you don’t have to be there).
- Buy a diary and record all contacts and conversations you have with Child Safety Services (eg what was said and agreed to).
- Remember that everything you tell Child Safety Services will form part of their assessment. Also any evidence gathered could be used in criminal proceedings against you or others.
- You do not have to answer any of their questions (there is no obligation under the Child Protection Act 1999 (QLD) to do so). However, it is often best to try to be on good terms with Child Safety Services and cooperate with them by answering the questions if you feel comfortable to do so.
Remember the following when answering any question:
- Take your time to answer. Think about the question.
- If you don’t understand something, ask what is meant by the question or statement.
- If you feel overwhelmed or confused ask for a break.
- It’s also ok to ask for a support person to be present (such as a friend, family member or a lawyer).
- Take notes. Make sure your notes are not just in relation to face-to-face meetings but also include ALL contact with Child Safety Services staff or associated service providers.
- It is legal and permissible for you to record a conversation provided that you are one of the people in the conversation (eg you could use your mobile). You may decide to be upfront and open about your recording in order to preserve good communication with Child Safety Services staff. You are not allowed to record anything that happens in a courtroom or tribunal proceeding. Distribution or publication of some material in a child protections case may also be in breach of the Child Protection Act 1999, so seek legal advice if you are unsure.
Child Safety Services and the Queensland Police Service can take a child into custody if the child is at risk of immediate harm. They do have responsibilities under the Child Protection Act 1999 to inform parent/s if they have removed a child.
They must tell at least one parent about the allegation of harm unless it would jeopardise a criminal investigation or expose the child to further harm.
The Queensland Police Service or Child Safety Services do not have an automatic right to be able to enter your home. However, whether they have the right to enter your home will depend on the circumstances.
- If Child Safety Services has been denied access to a child that they are investigating, or they reasonably suspect risk of immediate harm they may have the power to enter, search, remain there as long as is reasonably necessary, have contact with the child, using reasonable force if necessary.
- They may also seize things when entering a home to assess whether a child is in immediate danger or to carry out their assessment under a court order. They must give you a receipt for the items they take. (Make sure the receipt clearly identifies what has been taken. If possible photograph it before it is removed.)If a child is at risk of immediate harm, Child Safety Services may take the child with them and into their care. If Child Safety Services takes the child, they can only keep them for a maximum of 8 hours, unless they apply for a court order (or already have a court order). If Child Safety Services has a Temporary Custody Order or a Temporary Assessment Order they can remove your child immediately and keep the child in custody for up to three days. They must give you a copy of the order. If it was an urgent application for an order they may not have it with them – you can demand that it be provided the next day.
NOTE: Child Safety Services or the Queensland Police Service can be involved in the investigation stage and the police have the same powers as Child Safety Services under the Child Protection Act 1999. It is important to remember:
- the Queensland Police Service can carry on their own investigations separate to Child Safety Services
- even if the police stop investigating the case or the matter isn’t taken to court or that you are found not guilty in criminal law proceedings, Child Safety Services may still have child protection concerns, and may still seek a child protection order. Get legal advice on this.
Child Safety Services or a police officer from the Queensland Police Service can have contact with your child at school or childcare centre before they inform you if they believe it is in the child’s best interests.
Child Safety Services must tell at least one parent that they have had contact with the child and the reasons for that contact, unless it would jeopardise a criminal investigation or expose the child to further harm.
NOTE: your child is NOT obliged to answer any questions Child Safety Services ask if they do not want to. This means they can choose to remain silent or only answer some questions. They can also ask a support person to be present, such as a teacher, family member, support worker or lawyer.
Yes. Child Safety Services can investigate concerns regarding an unborn child, assess the likelihood that the child will need protection after he or she is born; and offer help and support to the pregnant woman.
They must not, however, interfere with the rights and liberties of the pregnant woman.
Child Safety Services can contact relevant health professionals and interview partners and family with your consent to find out about the type of support you have.
Child Safety Services can work with you under a support service case while you are pregnant. This means that you would have a Child Safety Officer assigned to you and would work with them to develop a support plan.
The purpose of working with Child Safety Services during this period is to reduce the likelihood that the child will need protection after he or she is born.