Child protection

Child protection orders are granted by the Children’s Court on request from the Department of Human Services (DHS).  The Victorian Child Protection Service is targeted to children and young people at risk of harm where families are unable or unwilling to protect them.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) may apply to the Children’s Court for protection orders. The grounds upon which the DHS can apply for these orders, as set out in section 162 of the CYFA, are:

  1. the child has been abandoned by his or her parents and, after reasonable enquiries
    1. the parents cannot be found; and
    2. no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child;
  2. the child’s parents are dead or incapacitated and there is no other suitable person willing and able to care for the child;
  3. the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury and the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
  4. the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of sexual abuse and the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
  5. the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, emotional or psychological harm of such a kind that the child’s emotional or intellectual development is, or is likely to be, significantly damaged and the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
  6. the child’s physical development or health has been, or is likely to be, significantly harmed and the child’s parents have not provided, arranged or allowed the provision of, or are unlikely to provide, arrange or allow the provision of, basic care or effective medical, surgical or other remedial care.

Section 162(2) of the CYFA provides that harm may be constituted by a single act or omission or by the accumulation of a series of acts or omissions.

The Supreme Court, in the case of Director-General of CSV v B (unreported, 11 December 1992) considered the grounds for a protection application. That case related to an allegation of significant damage to emotional or intellectual development. The judge stated that it was not necessary for the damage to be lasting or permanent; the damage needed to be “important or of consequence” to the child’s emotional or intellectual development.