Last updated 19 July 2016
If the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety) receives information about alleged harm or risk of harm to a child, and reasonably suspects the child is in need of protection, they must investigate. If Child Safety reasonably believes that the alleged harm may include a criminal offence relating to the child, such as sexual abuse, they must inform police regardless of whether or not Child Safety suspects the child is in need of protection (s 14 Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (Child Protection Act)).
As part of the investigation, Child Safety will complete a safety assessment to determine whether a child can remain with their family during the investigation. If the safety assessment identifies immediate harm indicators, Child Safety will consider what actions could be taken as part of a safety plan that will keep the child safe with their family.
Informing a child’s parents and long-term guardians about allegation of harm and outcome of investigation
If Child Safety decides to investigate an allegation of harm or risk of harm to a child, they must:
- give at least one of the child’s parents the details of the allegations of harm
- as soon as practicable, tell them about the outcome of the investigation
- if a child has a long-term guardian, give them the details of the allegations of harm and, as soon as practicable, tell them about the outcome of the investigation, and if satisfied it would be in the child’s best interests to do so, must also give at least one of the child’s parents the details of the alleged harm and tell them about the outcome of the investigation.
However, if Child Safety reasonably believes telling the parents or long-term guardians may jeopardise the investigation of a criminal offence for the alleged harm or may expose the child to harm, they are only required to advise at least one of the parents or long-term guardians to the extent considered reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances (s 15 Child Protection Act).
Consent of parents regarding investigations and assessments
During an investigation of an allegation of harm to a child, Child Safety must give consideration to obtaining the parents’ agreement to any actions necessary as part of the investigation to assess whether the child is a child in need of protection.
Safety plan for the child
Child Safety may make a safety plan, which is a written signed agreement that documents what has been agreed with the family to keep the child safe during the investigation.
The safety plan will include:
- what the parents and other people involved must do to keep the child safe at home
- who will be responsible for any agreed actions
- how the plan will be monitored.