The Courier Mail recently reported on a decision of Her Honour Justice Catherine Carew wherein she lambasted the Queensland Department of Child Safety for their lack of investigation of a family amidst reports that a young girl was frequently arriving at school upset, dirty, unfed and with little food with the mother understood the be using marijuana and abusing alcohol.
Extraordinarily the Department sought not to intervene in the proceedings because the child had no previous history with the Queensland department. However the mother had had two children previously removed from her care in other states. Further the father had been the subject of three separate police complaints for alleged sexual interest in unrelated children.
Her Honour called for an easier process of sharing information between the relevant State Child Safety departments to enable the Queensland Department and our Family Law Courts to take stronger action.
In Family Law proceedings, Department of Child Safety are given notice of potential or actual risks to a child by way of a Notice of Risk being filed at the commencement of proceedings (in the Federal Circuit Court) or a Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk of Family Violence (in the Family Court).
Each of these documents notifies the Department of Child Safety of the proceedings and seeks their consideration of whether or not the Department wishes to intervene in the proceedings to assist the Court in making a decision about what is in the best interests of a child.
However, as in the case decided by Justice Carew, the Department can choose not to intervene, even though arguably they ought to. This leaves the decision up to the Family Law Courts to place a child in living arrangements that they consider to be in their best interests.
Sometimes it is a case of the “lesser of two evils” as Her Honour noted that she reluctantly ordered the child to live with her mother despite the possibility of exposure to neglect, drug use and family violence.
Her Honour pleaded with the Department to assess the family on an urgent basis, including the child’s medical and psychological needs.
Cases such as this need expert legal advice as the intersection of family law and child safety law must be carefully managed. Our Family Law team at Marino Law is experienced in all aspects of parenting matters including circumstances involving allegations of abuse or risk of abuse and involvement of the Department of Child Safety. Swift action can be needed and we are here to help with urgent appointments available.
Contact us now for an initial discussion by telephone on 55260157.