Child protection practitioners may seek a warrant in the Children’s Court for the apprehension of a child who is subject to a protective intervention report, an interim accommodation order or a protection order. Where a child is located interstate, the warrant may be executed by the interstate police under the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 on behalf of Victoria. See Interstate warrants protocol.
Child protection practitioner’s role
The child protection practitioner will need to seek the applicable Children’s Court search warrant for the child. The child needs to be located interstate before the warrant recovery process can be initiated.
The central records branch will only hold warrants for 30 days before returning them to the court of issue for cancellation, unless advised in writing of the need for the warrant to remain active prior to the expiration of the 30 day period.
Once the child has been located interstate, attempts can be made to negotiate with all parties to see if the child can be returned without the execution of the warrant. This approach is only appropriate if there will be sufficient protection for the child.
The interstate liaison officer in the interstate jurisdiction should be contacted at this point and negotiation should occur regarding any tasks to be undertaken by the interstate child protection practitioner on behalf of Victoria.
If the child or family are unwilling to return voluntarily the practitioner should contact the interstate liaison team to advise them of the need for an interstate warrant to be executed.
If a decision is made to execute a warrant the Victorian interstate liaison team should be advised as early as possible. The interstate liaison team will need the following information to commence negotiations to execute the warrant with an interstate protection agency and interstate police:
- Details of warrant and any court orders in place
- Address of where the child is located and who may be with the child
- Any specific circumstances or behavioural/developmental needs of the child or young person such as disability, complex health issues, English as a second language, substance misuse, self-harm and mental illness.
Execution and negotiation with the interstate police
Interstate police will remove the child from the place where they are located, and at the earliest opportunity, present the warrant and the child at a local Children’s Court for a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace (as appropriate) to make an order to return the child to the Victorian Child Protection practitioner’s care.
This order will only provide for the return of the child to Victoria and place the child in the care of the Victorian Child Protection practitioner – it is not a new child protection order.
The Victorian Child Protection practitioner will need to consider making travel arrangements to be present at court or planning for the return of the child.
Interstate liaison team role
The interstate liaison team is responsible for assisting practitioners with the process and coordinating with the interstate jurisdiction to advise them of the situation as well as requesting assistance from child welfare staff in the local area. For example, being present at court if the Victorian child protection practitioner is unable to be present or arranging a placement.
This process is concerned with returning the child to Victoria where a protective intervention report has been received or where the Children's Court has made an interim accommodation order or a protection order. An argument in the interstate court should not centre on whether the child needs to be in care or where various family members currently reside.
Any warrant issued by the Children’s Court is a warrant for the purposes of Service and Execution of Process Act 1992. It is a prerequisite that the warrant be provided to the Court before any powers can be executed to return the child or young person to a specified place in the place of issue of the warrant.
Interstate departments may request assistance with the execution of a warrant for a child who has arrived in Victoria. The Victorian department should meet all reasonable requests that are made unless there are exceptional circumstances preventing the practitioner from providing assistance.
All requests are received by the interstate liaison team and referred to the relevant area to negotiate a transfer of the request for assistance.
By a Children’s Court order the Victorian department may:
- escort a child taken into care under a warrant from another state and give care of the child over to the relevant interstate child protection practitioner
- place a child in care until the interstate child protection practitioner can reach Victoria to take care of the child (not more than five days).