Last updated 3 August 2016

If the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety) needs to conduct further investigations to determine whether the child is in need of protection, and parental consent to further investigations cannot be obtained, the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (Child Protection Act) enables Child Safety or police to apply for assessment orders.

If a child has been taken into custody during the investigation phase, then Child Safety has eight hours from the time the child is taken into custody to apply for an assessment order in relation to the child (s 18 Child Protection Act); otherwise the child must be returned to the parents.

Assessment orders

There are two different types of assessment orders:

  • temporary assessment order (TAO) (ch 2 pt 2 Child Protection Act)
  • court assessment order (CAO) (ch 2 pt 3 Child Protection Act).

Temporary assessment order

An application for a TAO is made directly to a magistrate and can be decided without notifying the parents or hearing them on the application (s 26 Child Protection Act).

The application must be sworn and state:

  • the grounds upon which it is made
  • the nature of the order sought
  • the proposed arrangements for the child if they are to be in Child Safety’s custody under the TAO (s 25 Child Protection Act).

An application may be made by telephone, facsimile or other means of communication in urgent circumstances (s 30 Child Protection Act). Generally, a TAO will last for a maximum of three business days, but can be extended to the end of the next business day. A TAO cannot be extended more than once (ss 29, 34 Child Protection Act).

A TAO can only be made if the magistrate is satisfied that:

  • an investigation is necessary to assess whether the child is in need of protection
  • the investigation cannot be properly carried out without the order
  • reasonable steps have been taken to obtain the consent of at least one of the parents or long-term guardians, or that it is not practicable to take steps to obtain the consent (s 27 Child Protection Act).

A TAO can provide for any of the following:

  • authorise Child Safety or a police officer to have contact with the child
  • provide for Child Safety to have temporary custody of the child
  • authorise Child Safety or a police officer to enter a place to find the child
  • authorise medical examinations or treatment of the child
  • direct a parent of the child not to have contact with the child or to only have supervised contact with the child (s 28 Child Protection Act).

Once a TAO is made, Child Safety must:

  • give a copy of the order to at least one parent or any long-term guardian
  • explain the terms and effect of the order
  • tell them about the right of appeal and if they want to appeal, that it should be started immediately because of the duration of the order, and how to appeal
  • tell the child about the order (s 32 Child Protection Act).

Court assessment order

An application for a court assessment order (CAO) is made to the Childrens Court in circumstances similar to TAOs, but are available where the investigation cannot be completed within three business days (s 38 Child Protection Act).

The application must be sworn and filed in the court and state:

  • the grounds on which it is made
  • the nature of the order sought
  • comply with the rules of the court (s 39 Child Protection Act).

After the application is filed, a copy must be served on each parent or long-term guardian personally and the child must also be told about the application (s 41 Child Protection Act). The parents are respondents to the application. If personal service is not practicable, the application can be left at or sent by post to the last known residential address.

The application can be heard in the absence of the parents if they have been given reasonable notice of the hearing, or if the court is satisfied it was not practicable to give the parents notice of the hearing (s 43 Child Protection Act).

A CAO can only be made for a period of four weeks, but can be extended for a further four-week period (ss 47, 49 Child Protection Act).

The Childrens Court can make a CAO if satisfied:

  • that an investigation is necessary to assess whether the child is in need of protection
  • the investigation cannot be properly carried out without the order (s 44 Child Protection Act).

A CAO can provide for any of the following:

  • authorise Child Safety or a police officer to have contact with the child
  • authorise medical examinations or treatment of the child
  • provide for Child Safety to have temporary custody of the child
  • authorise Child Safety or a police officer to enter a place to find the child
  • make provision about the child’s contact with their family during Child Safety’s custody of the child
  • direct a parent of the child not to have contact with the child or to only have supervised contact with the child (s 45 Child Protection Act).

Once a CAO is made, Child Safety must:

  • give the parents, any long-term guardians and the child a copy of the order
  • explain the terms and effect of the order
  • tell them about the right of appeal and if they want to appeal, that it should be started within 28 days after the order is made
  • state how to appeal (s 48 Child Protection Act).