Telling your story - putting in a Response

If you are a parent responding to a protection and care matter in the Children’s Court, you will want to tell the magistrate and others:

  • what you think is best for your child
  • what you have to say about the Department of Communities' (sometimes called ‘Child Protection’ or ‘the Department’) application, the report in support and any affidavit lodged 
  • your side of the story.

One of the ways you can do this is by completing a court document called a Response to put your views and evidence down in writing.  

A Response is a court document which can be completed and lodged with the Children’s Court. It is called a Response because it is lodged when responding to an application made by Child Protection for a protection order or another party's application.

If you have a case in the Children’s Court, you should have received a copy of Child Protection's application for a protection order, and their report in support.

The report sets out the reasons why Child Protection has brought the child into care, a summary of any past involvement, and details of any specific incidents of concern. Child Protection may file an affidavit with more details about their worries later.

Preparing and filing a Response will help the court to more quickly work out what is going to be best for your child. The information on this page will help you with preparing your Response.

You should try to get legal advice about what to put in your Response. You can find more information about where to get legal help with your case on our webpage: Get help with child protection.

 

Quick Answers Video: Response forms

 

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How can preparing a Response help my case?

Completing and lodging a Response can help explain your side of the story. You can also tell the court, Child Protection, the child representative (if there is one) and other parties what you think is best for your child.

With a Response you can tell your side of the story at an early stage rather than waiting until the end of the court case to give your evidence in the witness box at a trial.

Your Response will help the court manage your case. It may help sort your case out earlier. If your case goes to trial, it will help everyone to work out what the issues are, how many witnesses you and Child Protection will have and how long your trial will take.

Also, you can use the Response form to support any interim application you want to make (for example, to ask for more contact with your child).  

What should I put in my Response?

There is a short video on this page that explains how and when to use the Response form.

After reading the Department’s application and report in support (and any affidavit filed by Child Protection) carefully, your Response should try to cover:

  • The orders in Child Protection’s application you agree with.
  • The orders in Child Protection’s application you disagree with.
  •  Any different orders you would like made, including temporary or interim orders (for example, to be able to have more contact).
  • Anything you agree with in the Department’s report or affidavit, and why. If it is easier for you, just write down the numbers of the paragraphs you fully agree with. 
  • What you disagree with in the Department’s report and why.
  • Any family members who should be assessed as a potential carer for your child to be placed with.
  • Important positive matters about you and your family before your child went into care that have been left out of the Department’s report.
  • If you want to work towards reunification, any important positive developments since your child went into care that show you are working on the worries. For example:
    • separating from a violent partner
    • getting a family violence restraining order
    • getting a mental health plan, or somewhere safe to live
    • having more family support in place
    • starting drug or family violence counselling,
    • completing parenting courses.

How do I attach documents to my Response supporting what I say?

If you have anything to prove what you say, attach it to your response. For example, if Child Protection’s report in support or affidavit says there are drug problems, but you have done counselling, you could say “Since [put in the date] I have completed 8 drug and alcohol counselling sessions with Mary Smith at Palmerston. Attached and marked ‘Attachment A’ is a copy of the letter from Ms Smith dated [put in the date the letter was written].”  

When should I put my Response in?

You should lodge your Response no later than 7 days after the status conference (unless the court has given you a different amount of time). For information about status conferences see the webpage Stages at court in a child protection case under the heading What is a status conference?

If your case goes to trial, Child Protection will file an affidavit. You might need to do another affidavit then, or if your situation changes. 

What do I do with my completed Response?

You need to sign your Response in front of an official, such as a registrar or justice of the peace. You must swear or affirm that the contents are true.

You lodge your Response at the court where your case is listed (together with enough copies for everyone else in your case). The court will stamp your copies. You need to give a stamped copy to Child Protection, the child representative (if there is one), and all other parties (or if they have one, their lawyer).

Resources

More information

 

Reviewed: 19 December 2023

Disclaimer

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.