Grandparents and other family members
Why is the Department involved with my family?
The Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA) is the law in Western Australia that the Department must follow if they believe a child is not safe living with their family or that a family needs extra support to make a child safe.
The Department can help families to look after their children or can remove children from their parents or carers if this seems necessary.
If children are removed, the Department will usually apply to the Children’s Court of WA for a protection order. However, there may be no need to go to court if they can be placed in the care of a parent where they will be safe.
Grandparents or other family members can get involved when the Department makes decisions about the care of the children. Sometimes the children may be placed in their care.
How do I get to have a say at court?
Generally, as a grandparent (or other family member or significant other), you cannot have a direct say at court, as you are not normally a party to the case. However, you can apply to the Children’s Court of WA to be made a party to the case. If your application is successful, you can then talk to the magistrate about what you would like to happen in the case.
To apply, you must usually file an application and an affidavit in support. The forms you need to do this are available from any Children’s Court registry or the Children’s Court of WA website.
A magistrate may grant your application if you can show that you have a ‘direct and significant interest’ in a child or young person. In your affidavit you could cover things such as the specific details of your relationship with the child and what your significant interest in the child is. For example, you may have spent regular time with the child and provided care in the past. The court will need to know about your relationship with the child and why you want to be involved in the court case.
If the case is listed in Dandjoo Bidi-Ak which is a special court that takes a cultural approach, you may be able to have a say without being a party.
If I am a grandparent or other family member, can I have the children placed with me while the case is still at court?
You might not agree with the temporary living arrangements made by the Department for the children. If you are a family member of children who are in care and want the children to live with you, the fastest way may be to ask the Department to assess you as a family carer. Contact the children’s Child Protection worker as soon as possible to get the assessment started.
If after your assessment the Department does not agree to place the children with you, if you have been made a party, you can ask the court to make interim (temporary) orders for the children to live with you.
To do this you must file an application and affidavit in support. The Department must also give a report about you to the court before the magistrate can place the children with you.
The magistrate will decide based on the ‘best interests of the child’.
- Infosheet - Grandparents - protection and care (grandchildren)
- Keep em safe fact sheet : Grandparents and others having a say in the Children's Court
- Children’s Court of WA website or registry for the forms you need to make applications to the Children’s Court.
Reviewed: 24 October 2023