Interstate and international travel - advice

This advice provides additional information regarding approving interstate and overseas travel for a child subject to a protection order.
Document ID number 2131, version 3, 20 October 2022.

See procedure Interstate and international travel for tasks that must be undertaken.

In all cases where a child is subject to a protection order and is possibly going to travel interstate or overseas, practitioners need to assess whether this travel is in the child's best interest or poses any possible risks to the child.

Request for interstate or overseas travel may include circumstances where:

  • parents who have a child, subject to a protection order, residing in their care want to travel interstate or overseas with the child; or
  • a carer, including kinship carer, home based carer and residential carer seek to travel interstate or overseas with the child.

Parental consent should be sought in all cases. Consent from the person with parental responsibility for the child is required before any travel can occur.

Family preservation order and therapeutic treatment (placement) order

Parents retain parental responsibility for their children and their consent is required for any interstate or international travel

Family reunification order

The Secretary has parental responsibility for the child, but not to the exclusion of all others. The consent of parents and the department is required.

Care by Secretary order and long-term care order

The Secretary has parental responsibility for the child, to the exclusion of all others, and is able to consent to interstate and international travel.

Children subject to an interim accommodation order (IAO)

It is not appropriate for a child subject to an IAO to travel interstate or overseas unless this is a condition of the IAO or every party gives consent. As an IAO will state where and with whom the child is to reside during the term of the order, it may be necessary to make an application to the Children's Court to vary the conditions if interstate or overseas travel is being considered. If the travel is considered to be in the child's best interests and the parents refuse to provide consent an application should be made to the court for a new IAO or to vary the conditions.

Request for a passport

See procedure Passports for tasks that must be undertaken.

Interstate liaison

The department is party to the Interstate Child Protection Protocol. All Australian states and territories and New Zealand are signatories to the protocol. The purpose of the protocol is to enable the ongoing protection of children subject to child protection orders or child protection intervention and the promotion of those children's best interests across state, and in the case of New Zealand, international boundaries.

To be able to make a determination to allow a child subject to a child protection order to travel interstate (or to New Zealand), practitioners need to make an assessment of prospective carers and require police checks on any adults with whom the child may stay. See advice Interstate requests on guiding principles and responsibilities in seeking assistance from interstate agencies and New Zealand relating to the movement of children from one jurisdiction to another. 

Considerations for good practice

When informing parents of proposals for travel, practitioners should give parents as much notice as possible and provide them with sufficient details regarding intended travel to allow them to consider the request. Consider the timeframe required to make an application to the Children's Court if the parents consent is needed but not forthcoming.

Consider contacting the interstate liaison team to seek advice on procedures for requests for assistance from interstate Child Protection agencies and New Zealand.

Planning ahead

Plans for a child to travel overseas should be implemented well in advance to allow time for a passport application, funding approvals, booking requirements and vaccinations, as required.

Impact on case planning

If the trip is over an extended period of time, the practitioner should assess the impact of the travel on the child’s case plan and permanency objective. Issues for consideration include:

  • Impact on contact with parents, siblings and other family members
  • Missing significant family events, such as birthdays and special family outings
  • Missing school and school related activities
  • Missing significant cultural and sporting events
  • Delaying the child’s reunification plan
  • Missing important medical or counselling appointments