Young people in care

You might be in the care of the Department of Communities (sometimes called ‘the Department’ or ‘Child Protection’). This can happen for many reasons, but it is the Department that looks after you if a magistrate in the Children’s Court has decided you need protection and care.

This information will help you to understand your rights as a young person in care

Can I have a say about being put into care?

If your case is at court and you want to challenge the decision to place you in care, you should tell your lawyer and they can let the magistrate know what you want. The magistrate makes decisions based on what they think is best for you. If you haven’t got a lawyer, you should speak to your case manager about how to get one.

If the magistrate has already made a decision, you can contact the Advocate for Children in Care to talk about your situation.

The Advocate can help you with problems or complaints that you can't sort out with your case manager 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). 

Who makes the big decisions for me if I am in care?

If you are in care, it is the job of the Department of Communities to make sure that you are looked after and safe, and that you are getting everything you need.

Your case manager is the person you will see and speak to the most. This is someone who works for the Department and who has special responsibility for you while you are in care.

Your case manager is part of a team with other people in a district office. They have a Team Leader who is their manager. The person who is in charge of the whole district office is called the District Director. You might want to ask your case manager for the names of the Team Leader and District Director, as they help to make decisions about you while you are in care, and you can talk to them if you want. 

Children and young people come into care for different reasons. It is important that you understand why you came into care and how long you will be in care. If you have a lawyer, you can ask them what is happening. Otherwise, your case manager should be able to help explain what is going on.

What rights do I have while in care?

All your rights are important, but especially important is your right to privacy. You have the right to keep in touch with friends and family whenever possible and can ask to have private conversations without anyone listening to what you’re saying.

Your rights are put together in a list called the Charter of Rights. If you have been placed into care, you should have your own copy and it should be explained to you by your case worker. If you have any questions about the Charter of Rights, contact your case manager, talk to your carer, your lawyer if you have one, or contact the Advocate for Children in Care.

You will also have a care plan and care plan meetings. A care plan says what is going to happen for you, and how you are going to be looked after while you are in care. You can have a say about your plan.

What are my rights when I am leaving care?

One of your main rights is to have a leaving care plan once you reach 15 years of age. This is a plan that sets out your needs as you prepare to leave care and move into other living arrangements. It should also set out the steps or other things that need to happen to help you meet those needs.

You should have the chance to say what you think about your plan. Your wishes and views about the care plan should be written in your plan.

How do I stay connected to my culture while I am in care?

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person or a young person from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, before you are put on a final order in the care of the Department you will have a cultural support plan written for you.

This is a plan for how you will develop and keep up your connection with the culture and traditions of your family or community. The Department should develop this plan together with you, your family and other important people in your life (for example, you may have a grandparent who is important to you and your family need to tell their stories).

If you have a lawyer they should talk to you about this plan and listen to what you say about it before your court case ends.


Reviewed: 21 March 2024


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.