Need a care and protection lawyer? Phone 1800 733 233
What we do
The Care and Protection law practice represents parents and children in child protection matters.
Our lawyers aim to achieve the best possible outcome for the child, parent and family.
ALS lawyers want to help families get their children back.
We want those children that have been taken away to be housed in a safe and culturally appropriate place.
Why we do it
We are working very hard to:
- prevent another Stolen Generation
- keep families together
- help parents get their lives together and their children back
- ensure the Children’s Court sticks to the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle
- keep children safe
What is child protection?
Child protection is meant to be about keeping children safe. Child protection determines whether a child is in need of care or protection.
Child protection proceedings are usually brought under state and territory laws. They are almost always initiated by a child protection agency.
What is a child protection agency?
Child Protection Agencies are Government Departments.
Child Protection Agencies have the responsibility for the safety and well-being of children. They assist in protecting a child from abuse or further harm. This might mean removing the child from their home.
In NSW the child protection agency is found within the NSW Government Department of Family and Community Services (used to be known as DoCS). In ACT the child protection agency is found within the Office for Children, Youth and Family Support in the ACT Government Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services .
What exactly does the child protection agency do?
Child Protection Agencies provide for the safety and well-being of children in NSW and ACT.
Child Protection Agencies talk with families. They make a judgement about whether a child is safe and well. They make a judgement about whether a parent can parent.
If the Child Protection Agency believes a child is not safe, or may not be safe into the future, they create a Care Application.
Care applications can be brought before the Children’s Court for children under the age of 16. Orders can be made until a child is 18 years of age.
A Care application seeks the removal of a child.
When can the ALS care and protection legal practice assist?
If a Care application has been made, we can help.
If a child was removed a long time ago, we can help.
If you want to change an order made by the court, we can help.
ALS assists Aboriginal men and women, parents and grandparents, uncles, aunties and children, with Child Protection issues.
Child Protection issues are when a government department is involved and is talking to you or your family.
ALS Care and Protection lawyers give professional expert legal and non-legal assistance. Our field officers also provide non-legal assistance.
Our lawyers fight to have all Aboriginal children who are taken from their families placed with family or within their community, doing their best to adhere to the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.
We challenge agencies working with Aboriginal families to maintain children’s connection to their families and their culture.
The Care and Protection law practice helps individuals understand what the Child Protection Agencies are saying and why a particular outcome has occurred.
ALS Care and Protection lawyers also help families to understand the Court process and what the Children’s Court is saying.
They help people decide whether they can fight a matter or not.
They help people create a plan for now, or into the future.
ALS Care and Protection lawyers are available by phone, email or at select ALS offices.
We have lawyers and field officers in a number of locations across NSW and ACT. Phone 1800 733 233.
What role does the Children’s Court play?
The Children’s Court makes the final decision about the removal of children.
They do this after learning about the child and his/her environment by talking to the Child Protection Agency, the Child’s lawyer (appointed by the court] and the ALS Care and Protection lawyer.
In NSW, the Children’s Court makes orders about the care and protection of a child.
Those orders can include:
- interim care orders
- orders for supervision
- orders allocating parental responsibility for a child or young person
- orders prohibiting an act by a person with parental responsibility
- contact orders
- orders for the provision of support services
- orders to attend therapeutic or treatment program
Out-of-home care means you are under the parental responsibility of the Minister for Community Services.
Out-of-home care includes kinship care, foster care, group homes or homelessness (drift in care).
Aboriginal children make up 24% of all children in out-of-home care.
What is the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle?
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Child Placement Principle has been endorsed in legislation or policy in all Australian states and territories.
The principle states the preferred order of placement for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child who has been removed from their birth family.
The preferred order is for the child to be placed with:
- the child’s extended family
- the child’s Aboriginal community; or
- other Aboriginal people.
Only if an appropriate placement cannot be found from the three groups can an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child be placed with a non-Aboriginal carer (Lock, 1997).
The principle provides an important acknowledgement that previous policies caused suffering to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and reflects the right of Aboriginal people to raise their children and retain them in their communities (Lock, 1997).
Children placed in one of the three preferred options are described as having been placed in accordance with the principle.
Are children placed according to the principle?
In Australia in 2009–10, 70.5% of Aboriginal children were placed in a preferred placement under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (i.e., with relatives/ kin, other Aboriginal caregivers or in Aboriginal residential care) (AIHW, 2011).
What happens to children who go through the child protection system?
Young people who have been in out-of-home or state care are heavily over-represented in the population of child homelessness and those engaged in the juvenile justice system.
Aboriginal young people are more likely to be referred to court at a younger age than non-Aboriginal young people.
The younger a child experiences a period of juvenile justice supervision, the more likely they are to re-enter juvenile justice supervision during subsequent years. (AIHW 2007)
Young people tend to remain in custody because they are homeless and government departments do not provide the support requested by the Court.
An Aboriginal juvenile who appears before a NSW court between 10-14 years of age is 60% more likely to end up in gaol when they are 18-22 years old. Aboriginal juveniles on supervised orders who have had a care and protection order have close to 100% chance of progressing to adult corrections systems. (Criminology Research Council 2002)
More than two-thirds of the young people who receive a control order from the NSW Children’s Court are convicted of a further offence within two years of their custodial order. 48 % of the budget of the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice is spent keeping juvenile offenders in custody (Criminology Research Council 2009/10, NSW Department of Juvenile Justice, personal communication 2009)
Childhood homelessness, being in state care and/or juvenile justice systems are strong predictors of adult homelessness. (Anglicare 2008)
Is Care and Protection law the same as Family law?
Care and Protection law matters are different from Family law matters. Family laws are the same all over Australia. Care and Protection laws are different in every State and Territory.
The ALS Care and Protection Law Practice represents parents and children in child protection matters. Care and Protection matters normally involve the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (used to be known as DoCS) or the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support. These Government Departments provide for the safety and well-being of children in NSW and ACT.
Some facts about child protection
- Aboriginal children are being taken away from their families at a rate faster than at any time during the Stolen Generation.
- One in six Aboriginal children are in State care.
- The number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care is nine times higher than the rate for non-Aboriginal children.
- Aboriginal children taken from their homes are the most vulnerable children in our society
- ALS has dedicated Care and Protection Lawyers and Field Officers who work with child protection matters.
Care and Protection matters normally involve the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (used to be known as DoCS) or the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support. These Government Departments provide for the safety and well-being of children in NSW and ACT.
Care and Protection matters are different from Family Law matters. Family laws are the same all over Australia. Care and Protection laws are different in every State and Territory.
Need a lawyer? Phone 1800 733 233