What happens when you are involved in a child protection matter?
If you are going to the Children's Court for a child protection matter, you can expect to see:
- the magistrate
- someone from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH)
- court staff.
The person at the front of the courtroom is called a magistrate (or judge). The magistrate wears ordinary clothes and doesn’t wear a wig. Magistrates get the final say and make the decisions in the Children's Court.
The magistrate will hear from DFFH staff first. DFFH will provide the court with an initial report explaining the reasons they are concerned about your child's safety and wellbeing. You will be provided with a copy of the initial report.
When do I get to have my say?
After the DFFH worker finishes, the court will give you time to respond to the things that have been said about you and your family.
You will have a chance to tell the magistrate what you think should happen to your child. This is usually done through your solicitor.
Child protection proceedings in the Children’s Court are conducted with as little formality and legal technicality as possible and the magistrate can obtain information by asking questions rather than just hearing the arguments and evidence provided by the parties.