How we helped - Child protection

Joanna's story

Joanna came to see Legal Aid WA to get help with a protection and care case in the Children’s Court. She had a four-year-old daughter who had been taken into care by the Department of Communities – Child Protection and Family Support. The court had previously made a two-year protection order for the daughter, while Joanna and the father had the chance to try to make changes in their lives. The aim was to see if reunification was going to be possible before the protection order ended.

Unfortunately, Joanna couldn’t make much progress working towards the goals the Department had set. She was also having problems maintaining a relationship with her daughter while she was in care, and had not seen her recently. Because things were not looking positive, the Department came back to court to ask for the time limited order to be cancelled and replaced with a protection order that would last until the daughter turned 18. Joanna was also pregnant, and the Department had told Joanna they wanted to work with her so the baby did not have to come into care at birth.

Joanna got help at the Children’s Court in Perth from our duty lawyer service, called Children’s Court (Protection) Services.

A lawyer worked with Joanna in pre-birth Signs of Safety meetings to identify some positive changes that she had made. Joanna and the Department made a plan for the baby to stay in her care. With this planning, Joanna was able to keep looking after her baby after the birth.

The daughter’s case was sent to a court ordered Signs of Safety conference. A lawyer from our Children’s Court (Protection) Services went to the conference with Joanna and helped come up with a new plan with the Department for Joanna to start having contact with her daughter again.

The Department agreed that it wouldn’t push for a protection order (until 18). Instead, everyone agreed to extend the current protection order (time limited) for two more years, so Joanna and the father could to continue to make progress on the things that were worrying the Department. This gave Joanna another opportunity to show that she would be able to properly protect and care for her baby and her daughter in the future, and that reunification could be in her daughter’s best interests.


Reviewed: 13 April 2018


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