The Department of Communities protects and cares for children and young people who are in need and supports families and individuals who are at risk or in crisis in Western Australia. If someone reports to the Department about the safety or wellbeing of your children, they are likely to investigate the matter. There are instances where the Department can decide they need to intervene/take action to protect your children. This includes removal and beginning legal action.
The Department investigates worries including allegations and young people being:
- Exposed to family violence, including hearing and seeing it or its effects on the family;
- Exposed to excessive alcohol and drug use;
- Left unsupervised;
- Mental health issues.
The Department may interview your children or other family members before they make the decision to take your child into care. ‘Taken into care’ is the phrase used to describe the legal process of the Department removing a child from the care of a parent. If your child is taken into care, this usually means the Department will organise for them to live with someone else and also make the day to day decisions for your child. They are obliged to file documents with the Children’s Court to permit them to retain control of your child.
At this stage you will be assigned a Communities case worker (if you haven’t already) who will try to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss things including contact with your child. The report in support filed by Communities with the protection application should also set out: your initial contact arrangements, and what needs to happen for contact to occur. You should read the supporting report or get a lawyer to assist you.
It is important that you engage with the Department. This includes going to and participating in any meetings the Department organises, going to appointments to help you work on their concerns and going to your visits with your children. The more you engage, the more likely the Department is able to see you are trying to address their worries and they will assist you to reconnect with your children.
The Department may also want you to sign a contract agreement before visits with your children start. This sets out the
You can also take a report of everything that occurs after your children are taken into care. This information will be useful to you and the Department if you are required to attend the Children’s Court in the future.
The Department will then make a decision about if the child needs ongoing protection and if they want to pursue the case in Court.
You should obtain legal advice as soon as possible. If you cannot afford a private lawyer, you can contact Legal Aid to have them assist in assigning you with a lawyer. You can also file evidence in the Children’s Court.
If you, a family member or a friend have had a child taken into care by the Department of Communities, we encourage you to seek legal advice from one of our friendly and knowledgeable lawyers here at Joss Legal.
If you would like to book an initial consultation, we can be contacted at (08) 6559 7480 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.