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Stage one - Inspect court or department file

Assessment criteria

For legal aid to be granted for a separate representative to inspect the court or department file in the Children’s Court the following tests must be satisfied:

Documentary requirements

If a separate representative has been ordered by the court, Legal Aid Queensland will receive a copy of the order (direct from the court) made pursuant to section 110 of the Child Protection Act 1999 in order to appoint a separate representative.

Interpretation

Guideline 1.6

Legal Aid Queensland will determine guideline 1.6 is satisfied if a section 110 order has been made.

The merits test

Due to the nature of the cases where separate representatives are appointed by the court, Legal Aid Queensland will normally consider that most matters will meet the merits test. However, Legal Aid Queensland will have regard to the merits test with particular reference to the appropriateness of spending limited public funds test.

Family Group Meeting (FGM)

A family group meeting is to be an inclusive and participative process for the child, family, the department and service providers, to develop a case plan that is child-centred, family-focussed, strengths-based and based on shared responsibility. It brings together family, extended family, services and support people in a forum that allows families to participate in planning for the protection of their children.

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 51H, the department must convene a family group meeting, or have a private convenor convene a family group meeting, to develop the initial case plan for a child. This is to occur in an inclusive and participative process with the child, the child's family and other significant people. 

Further information is available at the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women’s website.

Case Plan Review Meeting (CPRM)

Every case plan developed for a child under the Child Protection Act 1999, part 3A, must be regularly reviewed. The purpose of the case plan review is to assess progress towards achieving the case plan goal and outcomes and inform the development of a new case plan where the decision has been made to continue ongoing intervention. 

A case plan must be reviewed regularly, taking into consideration the following factors:

  • the child’s age and developmental needs
  • the provisions of the case plan
  • any change that has a significant impact on the direction of the case plan. 

The following people must be given an opportunity to participate in the review of a case plan (Child Protection Act 1999, section 51W):

  • the child, if age and developmentally appropriate
  • the child's parents
  • other members of the child's family group who are considered likely to make a significant contribution to the case plan
  • other people with whom the child has a significant relationship, for example, the child's approved carer or guardian
  • any legal representative for the child
  • a member of the recognised entity, when the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child
  • relevant service providers.

When reviewing a case plan, the use of a family group meeting is not required, but may be an appropriate way of engaging people, particularly when:

  • there is disagreement between family members and the department about the case plan
  • previous actions have not been completed
  •  changes to the case plan are being proposed which would significantly change the goal or outcomes. 

When a family group meeting is not to be used for the case plan review, a combination of strategies to conduct the review will be used to ensure it occurs in an inclusive and participative way, for example, meetings with the family, meetings with individuals or groups of individuals or, where necessary, telephone interviews. 

Further information is available at the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women’s website.

Allocation of a solicitor

Representation for Separate Representatives in child protection proceedings will be provided on an in-house basis unless there is a conflict of interest.

Grant(s) of aid

The grants of aid for a separate representative in the initial stage of proceedings are SR1A, SR1B and SR3 (all grants of aid will be issued as the same time).

The SR1A grant is a maximum fee grant of aid that allows for inspection of the court file.

The SR1B grant is a maximum fee grant of aid that allows for inspection of the department file.

The SR3 grant allows for two court attendances.

Extension(s) of aid

Attendances

An extension of aid may be available if a practitioner is required to attend at more court attendances than provided on any existing grants of aid.

The SR3 grant of aid is available if a practitioner is required to attend at more court attendances than provided on any existing grants of aid.

The SR3 grant of aid allows for appearances at a further 2 attendances and can be issued more than once if required.

The SR2 grant of aid is available if a practitioner is required to prepare and attend an initial family group meeting or case plan review meeting.

An extension of aid may be available for additional preparation during stage one if the nature and extent of funding criteria are met.

If the matter proceeds beyond stage one extensions of aid may be available to continue representation at the following stages:

Review of decisions

A decision to refuse legal aid for this type of matter may be appealed to the external review officer (refer to review of decisions).

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