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Child Protection FAQs

Which venues of the Children's Court hear Family Division cases?

In the metropolitan area, Family Division (Child Protection) cases are heard at Melbourne Children's Court, Moorabbin Justice Centre and the Children's Court at Broadmeadows.  In country areas, these cases are heard at most venues of the court.

Do I have to bring my children to court?

In most cases it is not necessary to bring children who are under 10 years of age to court.  Children 10 years and above are generally accepted as being capable of giving instructions to a lawyer and should be present.

If you are not sure or have any concerns, contact the court and registry staff will assist you.

How do I get a lawyer?

Legal Aid duty lawyers are available at court for legal advice and representation for eligible parties.  This can be organised on the day of the court hearing or prior to the court date.  To make arrangements prior to the court date you should contact your local office of Victoria Legal Aid.  Free legal information is also available from Victoria Legal Aid over the phone on (03) 9269 0120 or 1800 677 402 (country callers). 

You may wish to choose your own lawyer.  The Law Institute of Victoria has an online Legal Referral Service (see Related Links in the right hand menu) that allows you to search for lawyers who specialise in Children's Court work.  (In the "Area of Law" box, look for "Children's Court" under "Family and Relationships").

How do I become a party to the proceedings?

Parents are automatically parties to Family Division (Child Protection) court proceedings.

If you want to be joined as a party, you need to inform registry staff on the morning of the court case.  You will have to notify the Department of Health & Human Services of your application and then make an oral application to the magistrate in open court.  All parties in the case will be asked to indicate whether they agree or disagree with your application.

If the magistrate grants your application, you will be given time to seek legal representation if you wish.