Child Safety and Welfare (DOCS)

In Queensland the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women can intervene in, among other things, child welfare matters. In the context of the criminal law, where either an allegation has been made against a parent or carer, or that parent or carer has been convicted of an offence related to children, departmental intervention can include the serious step of removing a child or restricting contact between a child and a parent and /or carer.

Indeed, intervention may occur even if there have been no charges laid, but where there has simply been a “notification” to the department. The Department of Child Safety (“DOCS”) works on an assessment of risk to children, not findings of guilt.

If the Department of Child Safety have become involved to the point of attending at a client’s home with an intention to remove children, then there is a very real prospect that a police investigation will run parallel to any departmental investigation. 

Consequently, any lawyer advising the parent(s) or carer(s) will need to have one eye on the child safety issues and another on any possible criminal charges or other proceedings that may result.

The role of lawyers in child welfare matters

Department of Child Safety matters tend to be very emotional, given the real and potential implications for parents and their children. During this time parents often feel baffled about child protection decisions and processes, and as such the role of lawyers in the early stages of an investigation is vital for both the protection of the parents’ rights and to assist in the engagement with the department officers.

Getting advice or assistance

Gilshenan & Luton lawyers are very experienced in this complex area of law and have helped many clients obtain successful outcomes, such as:

  • obtaining a protection order for the children in favour of our client, after the children’s mother encouraged the children to make false complaints of abuse; and
  • having applications to remove children brought by the department, overturned.

The involvement of the Department of Child Safety in a family’s life can be a confronting and confusing time. It is vital that the advice and assistance of knowledgeable lawyers with expertise in this area is sought at the very earliest opportunity.