Dealing with Child Protection
What can you do if you disagree with a decision made by the Department of Communities (sometimes called 'the Department' or 'Child Protection') or you want to make a complaint?
Quick Answers Video: Care plan reviews
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Find out what you can do if:
- you are not sure what your rights are when dealing with the Department
- you disagree with a decision made by the Department and your case is at the Children's Court
- you think your child has been abused in care
- you are a parent (or other family member or foster carer) who has a complaint about the Department that is not about a care plan or a court decision
- you are a child or young person in care who has a complaint about the Department
- you are a parent, a child or young person in care, or a foster carer who doesn’t agree with the Department’s care plan
- you don’t agree with the outcome of the review to the Care Plan Review Panel
- you want to make a freedom of information (FOI) request.
Where can I find out my rights in the child protection process?
The rights of parents and families working with Child Protection under the law about keeping children safe, the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA), are set out in the Charter of Rights for Parents and Families.
The Charter sets out the rights of parents and families across 6 areas:
- fair treatment
- participation and inclusion, and
- privacy and confidentiality.
What can I do if I disagree with a decision made by the Department and my case is currently at the Children's Court?
You should get legal advice. This includes if you disagree with a decision made about a provisional care plan.
For more information, see Going to court for a child protection case.
What can I do if I think my child has been abused in care?
You should contact the Department office you have dealt with before. Your complaint will be referred to the Department’s Duty of Care Unit.
What can I do if I am a parent or other family member or foster carer who has a complaint about the Department that is not about a care plan or a court decision?
- Explain your concerns to the Department officer working with your family (for example, if he or she is not returning your calls).
- Talk to the team leader who supervises the Department officer (for example, if that officer continues not to return your calls).
- Make a complaint to the Director of the District Office or work unit.
If you are still not satisfied, you can take your complaint to the Department’s Complaints Management Unit on 1800 333 225. You can download a complaints kit with more information from the Department’s website.
If you don’t agree with the outcome of the complaints process or want to take your complaint outside of the Department, you can contact the Ombudsman Western Australia on (08) 9220 7555 or 1800 117 000 (country free call).
What can I do if I am a child, or young person who has a problem or complaint about the Department?
You can contact the Advocate for Children in Care.
The Advocate can help you with problems or complaints which you can't sort out with your case worker and can make sure you have a say in decisions that affect your life.
The Advocate can be contacted on 1800 460 696 or 0429 086 508 (phone or text).
You can also take some complaints to the Complaints Management Unit. This Unit cannot help you with all complaints including those about decisions in your care plan or about your legal case if it is currently in the Children’s Court or the State Administrative Tribunal.
What can I do if I am a parent or child or foster carer who does not agree with the Department’s care plan?
If you are a parent, or child, or foster carer who does not agree with a decision in a Department care plan you can ask for an internal review of the decision. You should get legal advice on how best to do this. Time limits apply but you can seek an extension of time. The Department’s Care Plan Review Panel (the Panel) does the review. The Panel cannot do reviews of provisional care plans.
Before asking for an internal review it might help to talk to the person who chaired the care plan meeting about the decision you disagree with. You may be able to get some changes without needing to have a review.
The Panel makes its recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department who will make a decision. A letter will be sent to you to tell you the decision.
What can I do if I do not agree with the outcome of the review to the Care Plan Review Panel?
You can apply to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for a review of the decision. Time limits apply. You should get legal advice.
How do I make an FOI request?
Visit the Department of Communities' website to get information about procedures for getting access to documents informally or through an FOI request, and to download the form you need to complete.
Reviewed: 29 November 2022