Children's Court of Victoria Banner
Home > Publications > Glossary

Glossary

Aborigine
A person who is descended from, identifies as and is accepted as an Aborigine or Torres Strait Islander.
Access
(In a child protection case) Visit of or communication by a person to a child.
Accountable undertaking
A sentencing order in which a charge is dismissed upon a child (and if required, a parent) giving an undertaking. Non-compliance with the undertaking may result in re-sentence.
Act (Act of parliament)
A law passed by a legislature and given Royal assent.
Accused
A person charged with a criminal offence.
Adjourn
Postpone, put off the hearing of a case to a later time.
Affected family member
A person the subject of an application for an intervention order under the Family Violence Intervention Orders Act 2008.
Affected person
A person the subject of an applicantion for an intervention order under the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010.
Affidavit
A written statement made by a person who has sworn or affirmed before a person authorized to administer the oath that the contents of the statement are true and correct.
Age
In the absence of positive evidence as to the age of a child, age means apparent age.
Age of criminal responsibility
The age at or above which a person can be charged by police with committing a criminal offence. In Victoria the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years. A person under 10 cannot be charged by police with committing an offence.
Antecedents
The past history of a person, often used in the sense of his or her prior criminal history.
Appeal
A hearing in a higher court to determine whether or not a judgment of a lower court is correct.
Apprehension
The taking of a child into custody either by a police officer or a protective worker.
Attachment (bonding)
A tie or bond of affection that develops between a child and the person or persons who care for the child or are otherwise involved with the child.
Bail
The right to be released from custody granted to a person who has been arrested and charged with a criminal offence on the condition that he or she return to court at some specified time together with any other conditions considered appropriate. May be granted or refused by a court, a bail justice or a police officer.
Bail justice
A person appointed by the Attorney-General to make decisions out of court hours about whether a person charged with an offence should be remanded in custody or released on bail. Bail justices also make decisions relating to the short-term residential placement of children deemed to be at risk by Department of Human Services child protection workers. Bail justices are employed in a voluntary capacity.
Breach
A failure by a person to comply with a court order.
Care (of a child)
(In a child protection case) Daily care and control of a child, whether or not involving custody of the child.
Case plan
A statement of all decisions concerning the child made by the Secretary after the making of an order by the Family Division of the Children's Court in respect of the child.
Caution
A formal caution issued to a young offender by a senior police officer in the presence of a parent or guardian following which no court proceedings are brought.
Charge
A document prepared by an informant and served on an accused detailing an alleged offence by the accused.
Child (Criminal Division)
A person who at the time of commission of an alleged offence was aged between 10 and 17 inclusive but does not include any person who had turned 19 at the time of being brought before the Court.
Child (Family Division)
A person who is under the age of 17 or, if a protection order is in force in relation to him or her, is under the age of 18.
Child abuse
The non-accidental misuse of power by adults over children involving an act or failure to act which has endangered or impaired or is likely to endanger or impair a child's physical or emotional health and/or development. Generally regarded as falling into four overlapping categories:
(1) physical abuse;
(2) sexual abuse;
(3) emotional/psychological abuse;
(4) neglect.
Child Protection
The branch of the Department of Human Services which is responsible for investigating allegations that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm and with providing supervision and/or services for children and young persons considered or found to be in need of protection.
Children's Court Clinic
An independent body within the Department of Justice whose primary function is to make clinical [psychological and/or psychiatric] assessments of children and families and to submit reports to Victorian Children's Courts in both child protection and criminal cases.
Children's Court Clinic Drug Program
A drug diversion program auspiced and conducted by the Children's Court Clinic to provide clinical drug assessment and referral to drug treatment for a young person charged with a criminal offence.
Committal proceeding
A court hearing in which the strength of the prosecution case is tested to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for an accused to be required to stand trial in a higher court for an indictable offence. The test is "whether the evidence is of sufficient weight to support a conviction".
Common law undertaking
A promise made to the Court which is not based on any Act or Regulation.
Community service
A service operated or approved by the Department of Human Services to meet the needs of children requiring protection, care or accommodation.
Compulsory procedure
The taking of an intimate or non-intimate sample (e.g. saliva) from or the conduct of a physical examination of a person charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence.
Conditions
Obligations included in an order with which parent, child and/or other person must comply.
Contest
A court hearing in which the parties disagree or where an accused person pleads not guilty.
Contest mention
A court hearing in the Criminal Division at which the presiding judicial officer attempts to resolve the issues in dispute and, if resolution is not achieved, ensures that the issues are clearly identified, the witnesses the parties wish to call are available and that the estimated length of the contest is accurate.
Conviction
This has a number of different meanings. The most common one relates to the stigma attached to a sentence. A sentence can be imposed by a judge or magistrate "with conviction" or "without conviction". A sentence "with conviction" involves greater condemnation of the defendant than one "without conviction".
Costs (order)
An order that a party (or occasionally another person) pay some or all of the legal costs of another party.
Custody
The right to have daily care and control of a child and the right and responsibility to make decisions concerning the daily care and control of a child.
Custody to third party order
A protection order which grants sole custody of a child to a person who is neither a parent or the Secretary of the Department of Human Services but does not affect the guardianship of the child.
Custody to Secretary order
A protection order which grants sole custody of a child to the Secretary of the Department of Human Services but does not affect the guardianship of the child.
Deferral of sentencing
When sentencing a young person is put off until a later date (not more than four months away), usually to allow certain things to be done and the young person's behaviour to be monitored.
Department of Human Services
The Victorian government department responsible, among other things, for Child Protection and Youth Justice.
Directions Hearing
A court hearing in the Family Division at which the presiding judicial officer attempts to resolve the issues in dispute and, if resolution is not achieved, ensures that the issues are clearly identified, the witnesses the parties wish to call are available and that the estimated length of the contest is accurate.
Dispute resolution conference/New model conference
A mediation held subject to guidelines issued by the Court.
Doli incapax
A child aged between 10 and 13 who did not understand that his or her offence against the criminal law was not "seriously wrong" is said to be "doli incapax" and cannot be found guilty of the offence.
Exceptional (in context of 'exceptional circumstances')
Of the nature of, or forming an exception, unusual, out of the ordinary, special.
Exclusive jurisdiction
A court has "exclusive jurisdiction" if it is the only court which can deal with a particular type of case.
Ex tempore judgment
A judgment which is given immediately or shortly after a case is concluded. See judgment below. An ex tempore judgment is usually oral rather than written.
Extension
An order continuing the operation of a supervision order, a supervised custody order, custody to Secretary order or a guardianship to Secretary order.
Felony
Term no longer used in Victoria: see Indictable offence below.
Fine
A sentencing order requiring a child or young person to pay a sum of money; includes any penalties, forfeitures, sums of money and costs ordered to be paid by the person.
Forensic procedure
The taking of a sample from any part of the body of a person charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence (whether an intimate or a non-intimate sample or any other type of sample) or the conduct of any procedure on or physical examination of the body but does not including the taking of a fingerprint.
Good behaviour bond
A sentencing order in which a charge is adjourned upon a child signing a promise to be of good behaviour and to comply with any special conditions imposed by the Court.  Non-compliance with a bond may result in re-sentence.
Group conference
A formal meeting conducted by a mediator and attended by a young offender, his or her parent or guardian and persons affected by the young person's offending. The underlying philosophy is "restorative justice".
Guardianship
Responsibility for the long-term welfare of a child.
Guardianship to Secretary order
A protection order which grants custody and guardianship of a child to the Secretary of the Department of Human Services to the exclusion of all other persons.
Indictable offence
Offences are divided into two main categories: indictable and summary. Indictable offences are generally more serious and are offences which can be tried on indictment, i.e. by a judge and jury in the Supreme Court or the County Court. However, many indictable offences can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court by a magistrate alone or in the Children’s Court by the President (a County Court judge) or a magistrate. Indictable offences used to be called felonies.
Informant
Police officer who laid charges against a person in a particular case.
Informations
Term no longer used in Victoria: now called charges.
Interim accommodation order
A temporary order which controls where a child lives pending the final determination by the Court of an application in the Family Division.
Interim protection order
A temporary order of up to three months' duration which the Children's Court may make upon finding a child to be in need of protection.
Intervention order
A court order which imposes prohibitions or restrictions on one person in order to regulate the conduct of that person towards another person.
Irreconcilable differences
A Protection Order may be made in relation to a child if the Children’s Court finds that irreconcilable differences exist between the child and the person having custody of the child to such an extent that the care and control of the child are likely to be seriously disrupted.
Judgment
The decision in a particular case and the reasons that the judicial officer came to that decision.
Jurisdiction
This is used in two alternate senses:

  • the legal power which a particular court possesses, e.g. power to hear and determine child protection applications;
  • the area over which the court's legal power extends, e.g. the State of Victoria.

Legal representation
Representation of a person by a legally qualified representative (solicitor or barrister) in court proceedings.
Magistrate
A judicial officer who hears cases in the Magistrates' Court (the lowest level of court in Victoria) and in the Children's Court.
Mention
A court hearing at which witnesses are generally not called and each party is given an opportunity to say in summary what should happen to the case. If the parties are not in complete agreement, the case is adjourned for mediation or contest.
Misdemeanour
Term no longer used in Victoria: see Summary offence below.
New model conference/Dispute resolution conference
(In a child protection case) A mediation held subject to guidelines issued by the Court.
Non-accountable undertaking
A sentencing order in which a charge is dismissed upon a child (and if required, a parent) giving an undertaking. Non-compliance with such undertaking has no consequences.
Notice
(In a child protection case) An application served on a parent or child inviting them to come to court at a later date without the child having been taken into custody. Used in contradistinction to apprehension.
Notification
A report of suspected child abuse made by a person to Child Protection (of the Department of Human Services). Certain professionals (including police, teachers, child care workers) are mandated, i.e. obliged by law to report suspected child abuse.
Open court
Court proceedings which are open to the public.
Parent
Defined in very broad terms in the Children, Youth and Families Act as including-

    1. the father or mother of the child;
    2. the spouse of the father or mother of the child;
    3. the domestic partner of the father or mother of the child;
    4. a person who has custody of the child; or
    5.  a person registered as, acknowledged as or declared by a court to be the father of the child.

Parity
"Like ought be treated alike".
Parole
Release by the Youth Parole Board of a child or young person from detention in a youth justice centre or youth residential centre prior to the completion of his or her sentence and subject to supervision by Youth Justice.
Permanent care order
An order which grants a person (other than a parent or the Secretary) custody and guardianship of a child. Similar to an adoption.
Pre-sentence report
A report prepared by Youth Justice or the Children's Court Clinic to assist the Court in the sentencing of a child or young person found guilty of an offence.
President of the Children's Court
The chief judicial officer of the Children's Court of Victoria who is a judge of the County Court appointed as President by the Governor in Council.
Probation
A sentencing order by which for a specified period a child or young person is supervised by a probation officer and may be required to comply with special conditions imposed by the Court. The probation officer may be either a paid employee of Youth Justice or an honorary probation officer.
Protective intervener
A person entitled to file with the Children's Court a protection application in respect of a child whom he or she believes on reasonable grounds to be in need of protection.
Proper venue
The venue of the Children's Court that is nearest to:

  • the place of residence of the child; or
  • the place where the subject matter arose (Family Division) or alleged offence was committed (Criminal Division).

Protection application
An application made to the Court for a finding that a child is in need of protection from actual or likely abuse.
Protection order
One of eight types of court orders set out in s.275(1) of the Children, Youth and Families Act which the Children's Court may make upon finding a child to be in need of protection.
Record of interview
A formal interview of an accused by an informant in relation to one or more charges laid by the informant. It is almost always audio-recorded and occasionally audio-video recorded.
Registrar
Court administrator.
Regulations
Delegated legislation made by the Governor in Council pursuant to an Act of Parliament.
Remand
A person who is arrested and charged with a criminal offence but not released on bail is said to be "remanded in custody".
Remote witness facility
An audio-visual link between a courtroom and some other place which enables a witness to give evidence without being in the courtroom. This is often used to enable evidence to be given by a victim without being in the same room as the alleged perpetrator.
Respondent
A person against whom an intervention order has been made (or against whom an application for an intervention order has been made).
Restitution/compensation
An order requiring a child or young person found guilty of a criminal offence to pay a sum of money to the victim of the offence to try to restore the victim to his or her pre-offence position.
Reunification
Return of a child to the care of a parent.
Rules (Children's Court Rules)
Rules made by the President together with two or more magistrates to govern various matters relating to the practice and procedure of the Court.
Secure welfare service
A community service that has lock-up facilities for young people whom the Children’s Court or Department of Human Services staff think will seriously hurt themselves or are in substantial and immediate danger of harm from something or someone else.
Secretary
The Secretary (i.e. Chief Executive Officer) of the Department of Human Services.
Sentencing order
Any order made by the Criminal Division of the Children's Court following a finding of guilt.
Service
Provision of an application or other document by one party to another party in the case.
Shared care
Where the care of a child is shared between attachment figures in different households.
Show cause
To demonstrate why a person's remand in custody is not justified.
Standard of proof
The test which must be applied by a judicial officer in making findings in a case. In a Family Division case the standard is "balance of probabilities", i.e. which of two or more conflicting allegations is more probable. In the summary hearing of a case in the Criminal Division, the Court must be satisfied of the child's guilt "beyond reasonable doubt".
Standing
The right of a person who has a "direct interest" in a child protection case to participate as a party in the hearing of the case.
Statutory declaration
A statement in writing, other than an affidavit, which contains an acknowledgment by the person making it that it is true and correct and which is signed by the person making it in the presence of a person authorized to witness the signing of a statutory declaration.
Statutory intervention
A case in which the Child Protection Division of the Department of Human Services issues a protection application in respect of a child. Used in contradistinction to voluntary intervention.
Stipendiary magistrate
This term is no longer used in Victoria. It is still used in England to distinguish between a magistrate who receives a salary for his or her services and a lay magistrate who is unpaid. All magistrates in Victoria are salaried.
Stipendiary probation officer
A probation officer who receives a salary for his or her services.
Struck out
A charge or an application which is withdrawn is said to be "struck out" of the court list.
Summary offence
Offences are divided into two main categories according to seriousness. Summary offences are generally but not always of a more minor nature and are heard in the Magistrates’ Court by a magistrate alone or in the Children’s Court by the President (a County Court judge) or a magistrate. Summary offences used to be called misdemeanours.
Supervised custody order
A protection order which grants sole custody of a child to a person who is neither a parent nor the Secretary of the Department of Human Services but does not affect the guardianship of the child. The order also gives the Secretary responsibility for the supervision of the order.
Supervision order
A protection order which gives the Secretary of the Department of Human Services responsibility for the supervision of a child but does not affect the custody or guardianship of the child.
Undertaking
A promise made to the Court. May either be oral or in writing.
Undisclosed placement
(In a child protection case) A temporary residence for the child whose address is not disclosed to the parents.
VATE tape
An audio-visual recording made by a police officer which records a conversation between a police officer and a young person (aged under 18 years) who is the alleged victim of a sexual offence, an assault or a threat of injury.
Variation
An alteration (usually of conditions) of a court order.
Victim Impact Statement
Oral or written statement made by a victim of crime which may be taken into account by a magistrate or judge when determining sentence.
Victim of stalking
An applicant for an intervention order who has been "stalked" by the defendant.
Video-conferencing facility
An audio-visual link between a courtroom and some other place (sometimes another court) which enables those participating in the court process to be in two different locations.
Viva voce evidence
Spoken evidence (as opposed to evidence by statement or affidavit).
Voluntary intervention
A case in which the Child Protection Division of the Department of Human Services works voluntarily with a family without bringing the case to court. Used in contra-distinction to statutory intervention.
Warrant
An authorisation, generally issued by a judicial officer and directed to a person in authority. Often this is an authority to take a person into custody and bring the person before the Court. Examples include-

  • Safe Custody Warrant - in case of a child alleged to be in need of protection or in respect of whom a court order is alleged to have been breached;
  • Warrant to Arrest - in the case of a child who has failed to attend the hearing of a criminal charge.

Youth attendance order
A sentencing order by which a child or young person aged between 15 and 17 is required for a specified period to attend a youth attendance project for a maximum of 10 hours per week (a maximum of three attendances) of which no more than four hours may be spent in community service activities.
Youth Justice
The branch of the Department of Human Services which is responsible for providing services for young offenders.
Youth residential centre order
A sentencing order by which a child or young person aged between 10 and 14 is sentenced to be detained in a youth residential centre for a specified period.
Youth supervision order
A sentencing order by which a child or young person is supervised by a probation officer and may be required to comply with special conditions imposed by the Court. The level of supervision is generally higher than that involved with a probation order for a specified period.
Youth justice centre order
A sentencing order by which a child or young person aged between 15 and 21 is sentenced to be detained in a youth justice centre for a specified period.