Care and Protection Proceedings in the ACT – Part 1

By Gemma Sutherland

Introduction to Care and Protection Jurisdiction

The Children’s Court in the Australian Capital Territory deals with matters involving children who may sometimes require protection from their own parents.
The Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS) is an agency with legislative responsibility under the Children and Young People Act 2008 for the care and protection of children and young people believed to be at risk of harm. If CYPS takes emergency steps in a matter, such as removing children form the care of their parents, the agency must, within a short time, make an application to the Children’s Court for appropriate orders and directions.
The jurisdiction may be described as the “welfare jurisdiction” and is to be distinguished from the “family law jurisdiction” which the Family Court has, under the Family Law Act (1975) (Cth), (a federal piece of legislation) to deal with parents’ disputes about their children.

The process and legislation

When a child is removed from a parent or a care giver, the emergency steps taken by the agency may be to place the child in the care of a family member or into emergency foster care. In the application which the CYPS must file with the Court, it must outline the reasons for removal and what orders they are seeking with respect to the child.

Parents and family members are afforded the opportunity to file their own material with the Court. Parents and family members may agree or disagree with the reasons for removal and to the orders that CYPS seek. The Court is solely focused on making any orders that they deem to be in the child’s best interests and has duty to ensure that a child is not at risk of abuse or neglect.

Initially the Court will hear the emergency action application and has to determine whether interim care and protection orders should be put in place. If it is found that a child is in need of care and protection, an interim order may be made and the child may then be placed under the parental responsibility of the Director General until such time that the matter is finalised.

Although the Children and Young People Act 2008 is primarily concerned with the child’s best interests, elringtons understands the importance of being heard and putting forward your case. A previous client has commented “I really appreciate all the effort put into the case. You have helped me and my family to be able to start to build a relationship. For this I am forever grateful to you”.

If you or a family member find yourselves in a situation where a child has been removed from their parents, please do not hesitate to contact us. At elringtons we have a range of experience in acting for either parent (mother or father), independently for the child and even for grandparents in care and protection proceedings.

For more information please contact Gemma Sutherland:

e: gsutherland@elringtons.com.au | p: +61 2 6206 1300