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Child Safety becomes involved with your family if they are concerned about your safety or whether someone is looking after you properly.
Child Safety is part of a government department called the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs. You may have heard it called another name like ‘DOCS’, ‘the department’ or ‘Child Safety’.
If Child Safety is involved in your life, you might still live at home, or with another family member, or in care.
The Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor is part of Child Safety. You may have heard it called “OCFOS”. OCFOS are lawyers who provide legal advice to Child Safety staff and help them to work out what they can legally do to keep you safe. An OCFOS legal officer will go to court for Child Safety if they want the court to make an assessment order or a temporary custody order.
If after talking to you and members of your family, and collecting information about your family situation Child Safety thinks you are not safe at home, they will want to ask the court to make a child protection order.
To do this, Child Safety talks to and works with lawyers at the Director of Child Protection Litigation. You may have heard it called the “DCPL”. The DCPL is an independent agency that handles child protection legal matters, which is part of another government department (separate to Child Safety) called the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
The DCPL reads the information received from Child Safety and works with them to decide whether to apply to the Childrens Court for a child protection order, and the type of order.
The law says children and young people need to be safe where they live. If there are worries (concerns) about your safety and wellbeing, an OCFOS legal officer from Child Safety or the DCPL can ask the Childrens Court to make an order (decision) to allow your situation to be checked out or for you to be placed in care.
Going to court doesn’t mean anyone is in trouble. The court’s role is to hear the facts about your situation and then make a decision about how to take care of you and keep you safe. Because the decision affects you, you can have a say about it (if you want to).
Child protection law aims to:
The court will make its decision by looking at:
A child protection order is made by the Childrens Court if it believes you are in need of protection (not safe). This means the magistrate agrees you have been harmed or that there is a high risk you will be harmed (this is called unacceptable risk). Usually, the magistrate will make a child protection order if they think:
‘Able’ and ‘willing’ are legal words that your lawyer or your CSO can explain to you.
There are different types of child protection orders, depending on a family’s situation. These include:
A child protection order can be:
If you would like this factsheet explained in your language, please phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 to speak to an interpreter. Ask them to connect you to Legal Aid Queensland. If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment you can contact us using the National Relay Service. To make a call, go to the National Relay Service website and ask for 1800 998 980 (Legal Aid Queensland’s legal information line). These are free services.
This resource is intended to be used with children and young people aged 10 to 17 years by child safety officers, lawyers and youth workers.
Last updated 15 December 2022