Grandparents and other family members

If you are worried about the welfare or safety of a grandchild or other child in your family in their current living situation, you may want to:

  • talk to the police,   
  • get legal advice about applying to the family court for parenting orders, or
  • report your worries to the Department of Communities, Child Protection (the Department). You may be able to have a say in decisions about their safety if the Department is investigating or the case is at the Children’s Court of WA.

If a child has recently been removed from your care by the Department, you should get urgent legal advice. Legal Aid WA has a free duty lawyer service at the Children’s Court in Perth which may be able to give advice or refer you to another service that can help.

You can find out more information about where to get help with a child protection case on the webpage Get help with child protection.

This page has information about child protection cases and how grandparents and other significant people can be involved.

You can find information about grandparents or others being involved in arrangements for children in family law cases on our webpage Family – Making decisions about children – Grandparents and others.

Quick Answers Video: Child protection - Grandparents and family members
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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.

Sometimes you may be able to have a say at a child protection mediation conference or a pre-hearing conference 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’.




Reviewed: 24 October 2023


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.