The glossary of terms provides users with a comprehensive list and description of titles, process names and acronyms and descriptions related to child protection practice.



Adoption and Permanent Care


Acquired brain injury.

Aboriginal Child Placement Principle

A nationally agreed standard in determining placement of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. The principle aims to enhance and preserve Aboriginal children’s cultural identity by ensuring that they maintain strong connections with family, community and culture. The principle governs the practice of child protection practitioners and community services when placing Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care. The principle is enshrined in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Aboriginal Child Specialist Advice and Support Service (ACSASS)

Service specifically funded by the department to provide advice and consultation services to child protection practitioners in relation to all Aboriginal children reported to child protection and all significant decisions including placement and case planning, during child protection involvement. In Victoria the service is known as the Aboriginal Child Specialist Advice and Support Service (ACSASS). The service is operated by the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) in all locations with the exception of Mildura, where the service is operated by the Mildura Aboriginal Corporation. The ACSASS service operated by VACCA is sometimes referred to as 'Lakidjeka’ and in Mildura it is sometimes referred to as ‘MAC/ACSASS’.

Aboriginal family-led decision making

Aboriginal family-led decision making (AFLDM) is a culturally based approach to decision making and planning with Aboriginal families about the safety needs of their children and how these can be met. Referrals to the program from child protection are considered once abuse or neglect of an Aboriginal child is substantiated. The AFLDM conveners – one from DHHS child protection and one from the Aboriginal community – meet with the family and relevant community members to make decisions about how to respond to protective concerns and keep the child safe in future.

The model utilises traditional Aboriginal approaches to solving family problems and involves Aboriginal elders, the child and extended family. Consideration is to be given to an AFLDM for decision making in relation to best interests planning and placement planning.

Aboriginal Family Preservation Program

The Aboriginal Family Preservation Program (AFPP) works intensively over a period of up to 12 weeks with families referred by child protection, with the aim of family preservation or reunification. The program's practice approach is grounded in Aboriginal culture and provides intensive family support, practical assistance and parenting education to address protective concerns thereby reducing need for placement of children in out-of-home care and enhancing the opportunity for reunification. AFPP services are available in Mildura, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Dandenong (for the Southern division) and in the local area and surrounds of Bairnsdale and Morwell.

Aboriginal Family Restoration Programs

Aboriginal Family Restoration Programs aim to prevent future harm and disadvantage for the most at-risk Aboriginal children by strengthening their parents’ capacity to safely care for them. The programs are based upon a holistic response to Aboriginal family breakdown to ensure the safety of Aboriginal children where there is a risk of the child being placed in out-of-home care, or the possibility of reunification. The program generally offers similar services to AFPP but with the option of a residential service for the whole family where there is imminent risk of the children being placed. AFRS programs are located in NWMR, Echuca and Morwell.

Aboriginal person

An Aboriginal person refers to a person descended from an Aborigine or Torres Strait Islander, who identifies as an Aborigine or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community. The term Aboriginal cannot be assumed to be inclusive of Torres Strait Islanders. Some people like to be known as Koori(e), Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander. Always capitalise the 'A' in Aboriginal, the ‘K’ Koori(e), the 'I’ in Indigenous as you would in proper nouns and names.

Accountable undertaking

A sentencing order in which a charge is dismissed upon a child giving an undertaking. Non-compliance with the undertaking may result in re-sentence.


Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation.


Adolescent community placement.


Aboriginal Child Specialist Advice and Support Service

Act (Act of parliament)

A law passed by a legislature and given Royal assent.


To present (a fact) as a supporting reason, piece of evidence.


For a court to postpone, put off the hearing of a case to a later time.

Adolescent community placement

Adolescent community placement is a home based care model for young people 12 years to 18 years of age who are unable to live with their families for a range of reasons. Adolescent Community Placement enables young people to reside in a home like environment with the support and supervision of approved and accredited caregivers.


Adoption is a way to provide an alternative permanent family for a child who is unable to live with their birth family on a long term basis. The effect of an adoption is that it makes the adoptive parents the child’s legal parents as though the child had been born to them.

Adoption and Permanent Care teams

Adoption and Permanent Care (A&PC) teams are specialist child placement services with expertise in permanent family placement. There are four DHHS divisional teams and six CSO teams. Catholic Care deliver the local infant adoption program statewide. A&PC teams recruit, educate, assess and approve applicants for both adoption and permanent care. Upon referral from child protection, A&PC teams match children with permanent carers and supervise those placements for about 12-18 months after the children’s court makes a permanent care order. They also provide relinquishment counselling to birth parents considering placing their child for adoption and match children with approved adoption applicants.

Adoption Act 1984

The legislation which sets out the legal requirements for adoption, including agency approval and gazettal of counsellors, procedures for giving consent to adoption, guardianship of the child relinquished for adoption, eligibility of applicants for adoption, legalisation of adoption through the granting of an adoption order, ongoing contact and information exchange, and access to information provisions.


Hearings are referred to as ‘adversarial’ because each party tries to establish their case and disprove the other parties’ case, rather than seeking common ground, compromise and agreement.


Aboriginal family-led decision making.


A written statement made by a person who has sworn or affirmed before a person authorised to administer the oath that the contents of the statement are true and correct.


In the absence of positive evidence as to the age of a child, age means apparent age.

Age and stage of life

A child's age and stage of life, together with culture and gender, provides the starting point for understanding each child's unique circumstances and experiences. It impacts on every other dimension of a child's life. It provides a lens for viewing safety, stability and development for vulnerable children. Age and stage of life refers to the different childhood experiences from birth to adulthood. An infant, a toddler, a pre-school child, a child in primary school and an adolescent all experience safety, stability and development very differently. Age relates to the chronological age of a child and is usually described in months or years for example a three year old. Stage of life is broader than age and may cover a period of several years and is socially as well as chronologically defined for example puberty is a stage of life.

Age of criminal responsibility

The age at or above which a person can be charged by police with committing a criminal offence. In Victoria the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years. A person under 10 cannot be charged by police with committing an offence.


Refers to community service organisation (CSO).

Aggrieved family member

An applicant for an intervention order who is related by blood or intimate relationship to the defendant.


After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service. Operates outside normal business hours and responds to urgent child protection matters.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Amicus curiae

Friend of the court.


The past history of a person, often used in the sense of his or her prior criminal history.


A hearing in a higher court to determine whether or not a judgment of a lower court is correct in law.


The taking of a child or young person into custody either by a police officer or a child protection practitioner.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The acronym is not used in conversation or written reports



The right to be released from custody granted to a person who has been arrested and charged with a criminal offence on the condition that he or she return to court at some specified time together with any other conditions considered appropriate.

Bail may be granted or refused by a court, a bail justice or police officer.

Bail - own undertaking

An undertaking in writing signed by an accused undertaking to attend court for the hearing.  

Bail justice

A person appointed by the Attorney-General to make decisions out of court hours about whether a person charged with an offence should be remanded in custody or released on bail. Bail justices also make decisions relating to the short-term residential placement of children deemed to be at risk by DHHS child protection practitioners. Bail justices are employed in a voluntary capacity.

Bail placement

A placement set by bail conditions.

Basic care provided

The provision of basic care means that the child's parents or other carers are meeting a child's individual needs for safety, stability and development. A child's basic needs include their physical, social and emotional needs and the nature of their needs will also depend on their age and stage of life, culture and gender. Physical needs may include food, liquid, warmth, shelter, clean and appropriate clothing, adequate personal hygiene, and timely access to appropriate medical and dental care where needed. Social and emotional needs may include emotional warmth, stimulation, consistency, guidance and boundaries. Development includes the child’s age, stage of development, culture and gender.

Best interests framework

The best interests framework for vulnerable children and youth presents the best interests principles and associated principles and provisions of the CYFA in a coherent policy framework in order to assist professionals to apply these principles in their day-to-day practice. It incorporates four dimensions of a child’s experience; safety, stability and development in relation to their age and stage, culture and gender and three categories of the child’s relationships; parent/carer capability, family composition and dynamics, and community participation, social and economic environment.

Best interests plan

The best interests plan is the formal plan that guides assessment, planning and action by child protection practitioners, and contracted case managers of CSO’s, for a child subject to a protective intervention. The best interests plan incorporates, as appropriate, a statutory case plan (s167 CYFA), cultural plan (s176 CYFA), and stability plan (s170) and other plans as they relate to care and placement, family reunification, education, leaving care, and crisis management.

Best interests planning

Best interests planning is the collaborative decision-making and planning process undertaken for a child who is the subject of a protective intervention. It sets goals, responsibilities and review processes to implement the best interests and decision-making principles of the CYFA.

Best interests principles

The best interests principles that apply as the paramount consideration to the court, child protection and community service organisations operating under the CYFA, specified in Section 10.

Best Start

Best Start is a whole of government early years project auspiced by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) that aims to improve the health, development, learning and well-being of all Victorian children, from before birth through to school. Best Start supports communities, parents, Elders, families and service providers to improve early years services so they are more responsive to local needs.


See legislation


Best interests plan.


Bail justice

Blended families

Blended families are two-parent families where some or all of the children living in the family are not the natural children of both parents.


Beginning practice in child protection – orientation program for new child protection practitioners.


A failure by a person to comply with a court order.



Central After Hours Assessment and Bail Placement Service provide an outreach response to young people who are at risk of remand to a youth justice facility or requiring a bail placement. The service operates between 5.00pm and 2.00am weekdays and 9.30am — 2.00am on weekends and public holidays.


Central After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service


Central After Hours Placement Service supports the After Hours Child Protection Emergancy Services (AHCPES) and Streetworks Outreach Service (SOS) by identifying suitable placement options for children and young people needing out-of-home care.


Central After Hours Services. A suite of co-located services that provide statewide services after business hours.


Culturally and linguistically diverse


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Specialist mental health services, providing assessment and treatment services for children and young people up to 18 years.

Care allowance

Assessed and approved home-based carers are eligible to receive a care allowance that assists with the day-to-day costs of care. The allowance is intended to contribute to expenses incurred by carers in the course of proving home-based care for children such as, food, household provisions, utilities, clothing, recreational activities and entertainment. The care allowance is not a payment for a carer’s time or expertise. Similarly, it is not compensation for a carer who is not engaged in paid employment.

Care and placement plan

The purpose of a care and placement plan is to ensure that all children and young people in out-of-home care have a clearly developed plan that addresses their needs and all parties concerned with the care of the child or young person are clear about what they are expected to do to achieve the plan. The placement plan will always be guided by the case plan, where this exists. A care and placement plan records the detailed day-to-day arrangements for the care of the child or young person. It identifies how their long and short term needs will be met.

Care leaver

(a) A young person over the age of 16 years who has been on a guardianship or custody order and is moving out of care to independent living.

(b) The term ‘care leaver’ is also commonly used to describe an older person who grew up in care. In the past many people grew up in children's homes or institutions. Some were former wards of state while others were placed in care voluntarily by their families.

Care team

The care teams exists to strengthen communication and collaboration between carers, DHHS staff, community service organisation staff, other associated professionals, clients and their families, prompting all parties involved to consider the things any good parent would naturally consider when caring for their own children. The care teams develops the care and placement plan and contributes to the best interests planning process. The composition of a care team will vary depending on the specific issues and needs of the child and family, however it will always include the child protection practitioner, agency placement worker, the child’s case manager, the child’s carer and parents (as appropriate).


A carer has primary day-to-day responsibility for a child in out-of-home care and aims to ensure the safety and wellbeing of that child. A carer must be able to form a positive relationship with the child that provides warmth, nurturing, support, stability and guidance. By definition, a carer is not the child's parent. A kinship carer will be assessed and approved by child protection, a foster carer or permanent carers will be accredited and approved by a community service organisation. A carer is an integral part of the care team.


Centre Against Sexual Assault.

Case contract

A case contract is a formal written agreement between DHHS and a community service organisation regarding the case management of an individual child protection client by the CSO; or the provision of case management tasks on behalf of child protection.

Case management

Case management is the coordination and delivery of services provided as part of a best interests plan.

Case manager

The person allocated the primary responsibility of overseeing implementation of the child or young person’s best interests plan. This can be either a DHHS or CSO employee.

Case plan

Is the formal plan (s. 166 of the CYFA) that must contain all significant decisions for the child's present and future care and wellbeing of the child and the permanency objective for the child where protective concerns have been substantiated. The case plan for an Aboriginal child placed in out-of-home care must address the cultural support needs of the child.

Case planning

Case planning is the decision-making process undertaken where support or intervention services are identified, planned and provided to families and children. Case planning also sets goals, responsibilities and review processes.


Client And Service Information System. Former child protection electronic database replaced by CRIS.


Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. Mental Health Services psychiatric triage. A 24 hour information, assessment, treatment, referral and support service for any person who may be in psychiatric crisis.

Catchment area

A catchment area is the geographical area for which the service is provided – for example a local government area.


A formal caution issued to a young offender by a senior police officer in the presence of a parent following which no court proceedings are brought.


A document prepared by an informant and served on a defendant detailing an alleged offence by the defendant.

Charter for children in out-of-home care (the Charter)

The Charter provides a framework of principles to promote the wellbeing of children and young people in out-of-home care in child friendly language. The Charter should be displayed in all residential care settings and be made available for each child in out-of-home care. The Charter should be explained and discussed with children in an age appropriate manner.

Child (criminal division)

A person who at the time of commission of an alleged offence was aged between 10 and 17 inclusive but does not include any person who had turned 19 when a proceeding for the offence is commenced in the court.

Child (family division)

A person who is under the age of 17 or, if a protection order is in force in relation to him or her, is under the age of 18.

Child abuse

Is any action, or lack of action, that significantly harms the child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development. The CYFA enables consideration of the pattern and history of harm and the impacts on a child’s safety, stability and development. There is an overwhelming body of evidence which indicates that chronic neglect, abuse and family violence are harmful and have a cumulative and detrimental effect on a child’s development. Child abuse can occur within a single incident or on multiple occasions and is categorised in the following manner:

(1) Physical abuse

(2) Sexual abuse

(3) Emotional/psychological abuse

(4) Neglect.

Child care agreement (Voluntary agreement)

Child-care agreements may be entered into by a parent wishing to place a child or young person in a voluntary out-of-home care placement.

Voluntary placements are those with no court order providing for the child or young person to live in a placement provided by a community service and where the parents (or in some cases the child or young person) may end the placement when they want to.

Section 135 of the (CYFA) allows a parent of a child to enter a written agreement with a service provider to place a child in the care of a service provider for the purpose of:

Supporting the child and his or her parent and

Encouraging and assisting the child’s parent to resume the care of the child.

Child centred and family focussed

Also referred to as child focussed family centred.

Child centred, family focussed practice is a collaborative strengths based approach that recognises that the best interests of the child will, in most circumstances, be met in the context of helping and supporting the child’s family to function well. This approach brings together the specialist resources provided by a professional and the knowledge, skills, concerns, decisions and plans of the family. The child centred aspect aims to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of the child remains of central concern and the family focused aspect seeks to bring about an improvement of each family’s circumstances by working in partnership with the family and building on their strengths. The approach also seeks to adopt a broad definition of ‘family’ that is inclusive of significant others in the child’s relationships network and to involve families in making choices about the resources and services they need.


Child FIRST (Child and Family Information Referral and Support Teams) provide a community based referral point into family services. This is the entry point into integrated family services in a service area. Children and families are referred to Child FIRST where there are significant concerns about a child’s wellbeing. Child FIRST will assess the risk to and needs of the child and the family and prioritise accepted referrals on the basis of need, then allocate to family services.

Child protection

The Department of Health & Human Services has a statutory responsibility under the CYFA to provide child protection services for children and young people in Victoria under the age of 17 years in need of protection or, when a protection order is in place, children under the age of 18 years.

Child protection provides services to children, young people and their families aimed at protecting children and young people from significant harm. When a child or young person is assessed as being ‘at risk’ within the family, Child Protection will – in the first instance and in accordance with the law – take reasonable steps to enable the child to remain in the care of their family by strengthening the family’s capacity to protect them.

When, even with support, a child is not safe within the family, child protection will intervene to remove the child and bring the matter before the children’s court. If the resumption of care by the parents is not possible, child protection will work towards an alternative permanent family care arrangement, or an independent living arrangement, depending on the age and circumstances of the child or young person.

Children, Youth and Families Act 2005

Referred to as CYFA.

Victorian legislation that governs the child and family services sector.

Child Information Sharing Scheme

The Child Information Sharing Scheme, created under Part 6A of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, permits the requesting and disclosure of confidential information between prescribed organisations (ISEs) for the purpose of promoting the wellbeing and safety of a child or group of children.


Child Information Sharing Scheme

Children’s Services Coordination Board

The Children's Services Coordination Board brings together key decision-makers across departments to lead coordination of activities impacting on children and young people. It is established under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005. The Board comprises the Chief Commissioner for Police and the secretaries of the departments of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Finance, Education and Training, Health & Human Services, and Justice & Regulation.

Children's Court Clinic

An independent body within the Department of Justice whose primary function is to make clinical assessments of children and families and to submit reports to Victorian children's courts in both child protection and criminal cases.

Children's Court Clinic Drug Program

A drug diversion program auspiced and conducted by the Children's Court Clinic to provide clinical drug assessment and referral to drug treatment for a young person charged with a criminal offence.


Coordinating Interstate Liaison Officer.


Critical Incident Response Management System.


Critical Incident and Stress Management. Service provided by the Department of Health & Human Services, staffed by specially trained debriefers to assist employees who have been exposed to incidents that have the potential to affect their emotional wellbeing and physical health.


Police Criminal Investigations Unit.


Care Leaver Australia Network (CLAN) is a national support and advocacy group for people brought up in care and placed in a range of institutions including orphanages, homes, industrial or training schools administered variously by the state, religious bodies and other charitable or welfare groups. CLAN is primarily for people who were brought up in care prior to the 1990s, sometimes known as ‘Forgotten Australians’.


Child protection refers to the child as the client; while working with the family and significant others.

Committal proceeding

A court hearing in which the strength of the prosecution case is tested to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a defendant to be required to stand trial in a higher court for an indictable offence. The test is ‘whether the evidence is of sufficient weight to support a conviction’.

Common law undertaking

A promise made to the court that is not based on any Act or Regulation.

Community-based child protection

Community-based child protection practitioners work collaboratively both with the child protection program and across the child and family services sector to support earlier and more effective intervention to vulnerable children, young people and their families.

Community service

A service established to provide services to meet the needs of children, young people and families requiring care, support, protection or accommodation and of families requiring support.

Community service organisation (CSO)

An organisation providing a community service.

Community-based child and family services

A community service established under s. 44 and registered under s. 46 of the CYFA.


Competency is the ability to perform a whole range of activities in a specific occupational or vocational area, transfer skills and knowledge to new situations, and to manage a wide variety of tasks within a job.

Competency-based training

Training to a set of related knowledge, skills, and attitudes (competencies) which are part of a job, role or responsibility, and which can be measured against accepted standards

Complaint and Warrant

An application for an intervention order.

Compulsory procedure

The taking of an intimate or non-intimate sample from, or the conduct of a physical examination of, a person charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence.


Obligations included in a court order with which parent, child and/or other person must comply.

Confidential information

The term confidential information covers both:

  • health information and identifiers for the purposes of the Health Records Act 2001
  • personal information for the purposes of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, including sensitive information (such as a criminal record), and unique identifiers.

Confidential information is usually referred to in the Child Protection Manual as simply ‘information’, as most of the information held by Child Protection about client and others is confidential information.


Contact of a child in out-of-home care with a person significant to the child, who does not have custody of the child, by way of a visit or other communication.


A court hearing in which the parties disagree or where an accused person pleads not guilty.

Contest mention

A court hearing in the criminal division at which the presiding judicial officer attempts to resolve the issues in dispute and, if resolution is not achieved, ensures that the issues are clearly identified, the witnesses the parties wish to call are available and that the estimated length of the contest is accurate.


This has a number of different meanings. The most common one relates to a criminal offence and means the offence has been proven and a conviction is recorded against the offender. A sentence can be imposed by a judge or magistrate ‘with conviction’ or ‘without conviction’. A sentence ‘with conviction’ involves greater condemnation of the offender than one ‘without conviction’.

Core assessment document

A CRIS document that focuses on critical information pertaining to the assessment of risk, safety and wellbeing of a child/young person.

Core assessment period

Relates to the core assessment document. An assessment period is a time frame over which risk is assessed. This time frame is negotiated with your supervisor and is dependent on the level of risk.

Costs (order)

An order, by the court, that a party [or occasionally another person] pay some or all of the legal costs of another party.

Court order

The actions the parties or a party must do to carry out a decision made by a court. An order may be either interim or final.


Child protection


Child protection and family services


Child Protection Litigation Office


Community Policing Squad (a former name for the SOCIT).


Community and Public Sector Union.

Criminal division

The criminal division of the children's court hears matters involving young people aged between 10-18 years who have been charged with a criminal offence. .

Criminal history check

A criminal history check is a check of all Australian police records for disclosable criminal matters about a person.

Criminal responsibility

Children under the age of 10 years cannot commit an offence (s. 344 of the CYFA). For children over 10 years but less than 14 years, the prosecution must prove that the child was aware of the serious wrongfulness of their action before they can be found guilty of a criminal offence.


Client Relationship Information System. Used by DHHS as an electronic system to manage client information.


Client Relationship Information System for community service providers.


Child sexual assault.


Community service organisation.


Custody to Secretary order


Community Services Victoria (A former name for Department of Health & Human Services, and the name prior to Health and Community Services).

Cultural plan

A cultural plan is a requirement under s. 176 of the CYFA for an Aboriginal child placed in out-of-home care that is aligned to the child's case plan. It sets out how an Aboriginal child is to remain connected to his or her Aboriginal community and Aboriginal culture.

Cumulative harm

Cumulative harm refers to the effects of multiple adverse or harmful circumstances and events in a child’s life. The unremitting daily impact of these experiences on the child can be profound and exponential, and diminish a child’s sense of safety, stability and wellbeing. Cumulative harm may be caused by an accumulation of a single recurring adverse circumstance or event (such as unrelenting low-level care); or by multiple circumstances or events (such as persistent verbal abuse and denigration, inconsistent or harsh discipline, and/ or exposure to family violence). Refers to repeated patterns of circumstances and events in a child’s life, which diminish and harm a child’s sense of safety, stability and wellbeing.

Custody order

A custody order is an order made by the children's court that places a child in the care of someone other than their parent, and gives that person the right to have the daily care and control of the child; and the right and responsibility to make decisions concerning the daily care and control of the child.

Custody to Secretary order

A protection order that grants sole custody of a child to the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services but does not affect the guardianship of the child. Refer to s. 287 of the CYFA.

Custody to third party order

A protection order that grants sole custody of a child to a person who is neither a parent or the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services but does not affect the guardianship of the child. Refer to s. 283 of the CYFA.


Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.



(1) A person charged with a criminal offence.

(2) The respondent to an application for an intervention order.

Deferral of sentencing

When sentencing a young person is put off until a later date (not more than four months away), usually to allow certain actions to be done and the young person's behaviour to be monitored.


A delegate is a person with authority to exercise a power assigned to the Secretary under legislation. The delegate's position title must be listed in the current instrument of delegation next to the section of the legislation granting the power. A delegate must exercise the power in accordance with relevant policies and guidelines.


A core dimension for considering a child's best interests. It covers the areas of life where all children need opportunities, encouragement and support throughout childhood to develop to their full potential. These are the parts of a child's life that are affected by the adverse impacts of any trauma. They are also the aspects of a child's life that most parents pay constant attention to (usually unconsciously) as part of everyday family life.

Developmental delay/interrupted development

A child is considered to have a developmental delay or disability if he or she has been assessed as being behind in his or her developmental milestones. A delay or disability may result from a mental or physical impairment affecting one or more of the following: language/speech, cognitive development, fine and/or gross motor skills, self-care, play and social development.


Disease, Injury and Near-Miss Accident Form. This form is completed following injuries, accidents and stressful incidents, such as threats that have occurred during working hours.

Directions hearing

A court hearing in the family division at which the presiding judicial officer attempts to resolve the issues in dispute and, if resolution is not achieved, ensures that the issues are clearly identified, the witnesses the parties wish to call are available and that the estimated length of the contest is accurate.

Diversionary role

Diversion refers to the provision of services in order to address problems and prevent the need for tertiary intervention.


The department’s service delivery operations are organised into four geographical divisions North, South, East and West.

Doli incapax

A rebuttable presumption that a child aged between 10 and 13 inclusive does not know the difference between right and wrong and therefore is incapable of committing a criminal offence. The presumption may be rebutted by ‘strong and pregnant evidence’.


Domestic violence - also referred to as family violence.



Employee Assistance Program. Is a independent personal counselling service and provides a limited number of counselling sessions to help staff clarify situations and difficulties and find appropriate management strategies.

Early years services

Early years services are those services provided to children and families in the years from birth to school attendance. Responsibility for early childhood services rests with the Department of Education and Training.

Ecological theory

Ecological theory articulates the importance of the child’s relationship with the family and community, and creating change through environmental interventions whilst concurrently supporting the individual. The focus of practice is the person-in-environment. It acknowledges that social support is an essential component of practice and that social interventions can take many forms.

Education and learning

An element of the best interests dimension 'development'. It covers all areas of a child's cognitive development, and begins at birth where parents/carers encourage exploration, applauding approximations of success and providing comfort when a child is not successful. Education and learning includes opportunities for play and interaction with other children, access to books, acquiring a range of skills and interests and experiencing success and achievement. For older children, education and learning includes experiencing success and achievement through opportunities provided through school, vocational training, employment, voluntary activities and recreation.

Educational and medical expenses allowance

Carers of children and young people placed in home-based care placements by child protection are entitled to receive an education and medical expense allowance to assist in meeting education and health service needs of children and young people in their care. This allowance is in addition to and does not affect the regular fortnightly care allowance.

Educational assistance initiative allowance

The education assistance initiative (EAI) allowance was introduced to contribute to meeting the educational costs for children placed in foster care and kinship care by child protection. The EAI allowance is not available to permanent carers and special needs local adoption carers. The carers of children in voluntary home-based care without child protection involvement are also not eligible. There are two age bands for the EAI allowance; 5-11 years of age, and 12-18 years of age.


A method of learning on-line electronically.

Emotional and behavioural development

An element of the best interests dimension 'development'. It refers to the appropriateness of response demonstrated in feelings and actions by a child, initially to parents and caregivers, and as the child grows older, to the wider social network and community. It includes the nature and quality of early attachments, characteristics of temperament, adaptation to change, response to stress and degree of appropriate self-control and the development of pro-social behaviours, including moral development. It covers a child's emotional displays of happiness or sadness, anger, irritability and frustration and any behavioural signs of anxieties and worries such as sleep disruption, loss of appetite, self-harm, and undiagnosed aches and pains.

East Division

East Division comprises four service areas, Eastern Melbourne, Outer Eastern Melbourne, Goulburn and Oven’s Murray.

Ex tempore judgement

A judgment which is given immediately or shortly after a case is concluded. See judgement. An ex tempore judgment is usually oral rather than written.

Exclusive jurisdiction

A court has ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ if it is the only court which can deal with a particular type of case.


An order continuing the operation of a custody to Secretary order or a guardianship to Secretary order.



Further action


Funded Agency Channel.

Family group conference

See family-led decision-making.

Family-led decision-making

Family-led decision-making (FLDM) is a process for making plans for a child or young person that involves meeting held with members of the family and extended family. FLDM (also referred to as family group conferencing) can happen when child protection has assessed that there is abuse or neglect, or where a child or young person is on a protection order from the children’s court, or where a child is being relinquished. The purpose is to bring family members together so they can be supported to make decisions about the child or young person.

Family services

The family services program (including Child FIRST) is delivered by registered community service organisations across Victoria. Family services target vulnerable children or young people, aged 0 to 17 years and their families, or parents expecting a child where there are significant concerns about a child or unborn child. Family services are coordinated within service areas. Each area has a central intake, called Child FIRST.

Family violence

Family violence is behaviour that controls or dominates a family member and causes them to fear for their own or another person’s safety and wellbeing. Family violence includes behaviour that: is physically, sexually or psychologically abusive; economically abusive; threatening; coercive; in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person; or causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of the above behaviour.

Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme

The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme, created under Part 5A of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008, authorises prescribed family violence information sharing entities (ISEs) to share information with one another for family violence risk assessment and risk management purposes.


Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme


Term no longer used in Victoria: see indictable offence.


Front End Reception Information System.


Family group conference

Finding solutions

Finding solutions is a statewide mediation program to engage rapidly with young people and their families to provide mediation and support that helps them address the issues leading to potential family breakdown and to divert them from further involvement in the child protection and placement system.


A sentencing order requiring a child or young person to pay a sum of money; includes any penalties, forfeitures, sums of money and costs ordered to be paid by the person.


Family Law Court


Family-led decision-making.


Forensic Medical Officer. A medical doctor qualified to undertake a forensic medical examination.


Freedom of Information.

Forensic medical examination

A medical examination conducted by a qualified FMO for the purposes of collecting evidence that can be used in court.

Forensic procedure

The taking of a sample from any part of the body of a person charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence (whether an intimate or a non-intimate sample or any other type of sample) or the conduct of any procedure on or physical examination of the body but does not include the taking of a fingerprint.

Forgotten Australian

A term that is sometimes used to describe a person placed in a range of institutions including orphanages, homes, industrial or training schools administered variously by the state, religious bodies and other charitable or welfare groups. The term Forgotten Australian comes from the title of the Senate Committee Report entitled Forgotten Australians - A report on Australians who grew up in out-of-home care as children tabled in the Senate by the Community Affairs Reference Committee in August 2004.

Former ward

A former ward of state is someone who as a child or young person was removed from the care of their family or guardian(s) and legally placed in the care of the state in accordance with the provisions of legislation of the time. Also referred to as state ward.

Foster care

Foster care is the provision of temporary care of a child up to 18 years of age, within a home based setting, by accredited and trained foster carers. CSOs are responsible for recruiting, training and supporting caregivers.

Foster carer

A foster carer is a volunteer carer who has been accredited and trained by a CSO to provide a home and care for children and young people unable to live at home.


Family Violence


Gatehouse Centre

A centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital staffed by a multi-disciplinary team that provide a range of assessment and treatment services for children when there are concerns of abuse.


Together with age and stage of life and culture, gender provides the starting point or lens for understanding each child's unique circumstances and experiences. It refers to the attributes assigned to males and females by societal norms. Gender affects a child's experiences and life chances because the expectations and assumptions that occur as a result of gender are entrenched within the community and wider social systems (education, judicial, employment, welfare, economic etc). The interface between children and these systems means that boys and girls experience the world differently and may be differentially affected by apparently similar events and circumstances.

Gender equity

Gender equity is the process of being fair to men and women. To ensure fairness, measures must often be put in place to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from operating on a level playing field. Equity is a means. Equality is the result.


Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer.


Guardianship order

Good behaviour bond

A sentencing order in which a proceeding is adjourned upon a child or young person signing a promise to be of good behaviour and to comply with any special conditions imposed by the court. Non-compliance with a bond may result in re-sentence. If the child or young person observes the conditions of the bond, the court must dismiss the charge.

Group conference

A court ordered formal meeting conducted by a convenor and attended by a young offender, police, legal representative, parent/guardian or other significant other and persons affected by the young person's offending. The group conference negotiates an outcome plan designed to assist the young person to take responsibility and make reparation for their offending. The underlying philosophy is ‘restorative justice’.


A legal guardian is responsible for the long-term welfare of the child, and has all ther powers, rights and duties of a guardian, other than the right to have the daily care and control of the child; and the right and responsibility to make decisions concerning the daily care and control of the child. (See definition in section 4 CYFA)

Guardianship to Secretary order

A protection order that grants guardianship and custody of a child to the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services to the exclusion of all other persons. Refer s. 289 of the CYFA.



Health and Community Services; previous name for Department of Health & Human Services.


See Home-based care


Harm to a child involves three elements:

  • The actions, omissions, or behaviours (which may be a single occurrence or a series or pattern of continuing occurrences) that are classified into one or more of the harm types (abandonment, physical injury, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect).
  • The adverse impact on the child's immediate, cumulative and likely stability and development (for example the negative affect on the child's health, emotional and behavioural development, education and learning).
  • The extent to which a child is in danger of future harm - which relates to the risks (likelihood of the adverse event or circumstances continuing or re-occurring) the sustainable protective factors (parent capability, family and extended family support, community and cultural support) and the overall likely impact of the risks and protective factors on the child's stability and development.

Health information

Information or opinion about an individual's physical, mental or psychological health, disability, or health services.

Home-based care (HBC)

Home-based care provides placements with approved caregivers in their own home, for children and young people 0 years to 18 years of age who have experienced significant difficulties and are unable to live with their families for a range of reasons. Home-based care includes foster care, kinship care and permanent care.


Human Resources


High risk adolescent.


High risk infant (now referred to as infant intensive response)



Interim accommodation order


Internal Bureau of Records, Victoria Police. Now called Central Records Branch, Victoria Police.


Irreconcilable difference application. Exists when there is a serious breakdown in the relationship between a child and a parent/s (or a person who has custody). These cases come before the court when one of the parties (child or parent) wants responsibility for the daily care and control of the child to be transferred to another person.


Insterstate Liaison Officer.

Independent person

Is a person used by police for interviews with young people (under the age of 18 years), when a parent/guardian is not available.

Independent third person

Is a trained person used by police for interviews with young people (under the age of 18 years) and with young people who have a disability and cannot be a relative.

Indictable offence

Offences are divided into two main categories: indictable and summary. Indictable offences are generally more serious and are offences which can be tried on indictment, i.e. by a judge and jury in the Supreme Court or the County Court. However, many indictable offences can be heard in the magistrates’ court by a magistrate alone or in the children’s court by the President (a County Court judge), or a magistrate. Indictable offences used to be called felonies.


As a generic term this refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are Indigenous Australians.


Police officer who laid charges against a person in a particular case.

Information holder

Certain professionals who may have contact with vulnerable children or their parents are defined under the CYFA (s. 3 of the CYFA and r. 6 of the Children, Youth and Families Regulations). A full list of information holders can be found in information sharing and child protection practice under information sharing under the CYFA/classes relevant to information sharing.

Information sharing entity

A person or body prescribed, or a class of person or body prescribed to be an Information Sharing Entity under the Child Information Sharing Scheme or Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme.


Information sharing entity

Init Invest

Initial investigation

Intellectual disability

Intellectual disability in relation to a person over the age of 5 years, means the concurrent existence of:

  • significant sub-average general intellectual functioning; and
  • significant deficits in adaptive behaviour,
  • each of which became manifest before the age of 18 years.

Interim accommodation order (IAO)

A temporary order which controls where a child lives pending the final determination by the court of an application in the family division.

Interim protection order

A temporary order of up to three months’ duration which the children’s court may make upon finding a child to be in need of protection.

Intervention order

A court order which imposes prohibitions or restrictions on one person in order to regulate the conduct of that person towards another person.


Interim protection order.

Irreconcilable differences

A Protection Order may be made in relation to a child if the children’s court finds that irreconcilable differences exist between the child and the person having custody of the child to such an extent that the care and control of the child are likely to be seriously disrupted.



The decision in a particular case and the reasons that the judicial officer came to that decision.


This is used in two alternate senses:

(1) the legal power which a particular court possesses, for example, power to hear and determine child protection applications

(2) the area over which the court’s legal power extends, for example, the state of Victoria.

Juvenile justice

Previously used term for youth justice.


Kinship care

Kinship care is the care provided by relatives or a member of a child’s social network when a child cannot live with their parents.

Aboriginal kinship care is care provided by relatives or friends to an Aboriginal child who cannot live with their parents, where Aboriginal family and community and Aboriginal culture are valued as central to the child’s safety, stability and development.


DHHS intranet.


Key performance indicator



Looking After Children.


Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer.

Lead tenant

Provision of semi-independent support and accommodation for young people aged 15 to 18 years who are unable to live with their family due to issues of abuse or neglect and who are in transition to independent living. A volunteer lead tenant lives in a residential unit with a small group of young people and provides them with support and guidance in developing their independent living skills.

Legal representation

Representation of a person by a legally qualified representative (solicitor or barrister) in court proceedings.


Local government area.

Long term guardianship to Secretary order

A long term guardianship to Secretary order may be made in respect of a child of or over the age of 12 years; and grants custody and guardianship of the child to the Secretary to the exclusion of all other persons; and subject to Division 8 (CYFA) remains in force until the child attains the age of 18 years or marries whichever happens first; and despite anything to the contrary in Division 7 of the CYFA, may be made instead of extending a guardianship to Secretary order.

Looking After Children

Looking After Children (LAC) is a best practice framework for supporting outcomes-focused collaborative care for children and young people who are placed away from their families as a result of a child protection intervention. LAC was originally developed in the United Kingdom and has subsequently been implemented in many other jurisdictions internationally and interstate



Maternal and Child Health Line. A statewide service that provides 24 hour telephone advice by qualified maternal and child health nurses to families with children from birth to school age regarding child health, maternal and family health and parenting issue.


Municipal Association of Victoria.


A judicial officer who hears cases in the magistrates' court (the lowest level of court in Victoria) and in the children's court. Magistrates are addressed as 'Your Honour'.

Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality (MAPPS)

The Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality (MAPPS) is for young people on youth justice orders, aged 10–21 years, who have been found guilty of committing a sexual offence.


Refers to the legislated powers and responsibilities conferred under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 on the Secretary of DHHS (and delegates).

Mandatory reporting

Section 184 of the CYFA 2005 states that certain professionals must report their concerns for a child to child protection when they form the belief on reasonable grounds that the child is in need of protection.


Melbourne Children’s Court


Maternal and child health

MCH Nurse

The maternal and child health nurse is a registered nurse with the Nurses Board of Victoria, who has a current annual registration in Division 1 of the register and holds additional qualifications in midwifery and maternal and child health.

MCH Service

The Maternal and Child Health Service is a universal primary care service for Victorian families with children aged birth to school age. The service is provided in partnership with the Municipal Association of Victoria, local government and DHHS. The goal of the service is to promote a comprehensive and focused approach for the promotion, prevention, early detection and intervention of physical, emotional or social factors affecting young children and their families in contemporary communities.


A court hearing at which witnesses are generally not called and each party is given an opportunity to say in summary what should happen to the case. If the parties are not in complete agreement, the case is adjourned for mediation or contest.


Term no longer used in Victoria: see summary offence.


Melbourne Youth Justice Centre. Is a custodial facility for up to 60 young people aged 15 to 18 years, who are either on remand or serving a custodial sentence, generally from the children's court.


North Division

North Division comprises four service areas, North Eastern Melbourne, Hume Moreland, Loddon and Mallee.

Natural justice

The principles of natural justice concern procedural fairness and aim to ensure that a fair decision is reached by an objective decision maker and that a person is entitled to put their case before a decision is made against them.


Neglect includes failure to provide the child with an adequate standard of nutrition, medical care, clothing, shelter or supervision to the extent where the health or development of the child is significantly impaired or placed at risk. A child is neglected if they are abandoned or left uncared for over unreasonable periods of time that is inconsistent with their age, stage and development.

New placement allowance

The new placement allowance is an allowance paid to foster, kinship, permanent and special needs local adoption carers over the first six months of the placement where the carer is in receipt of the level one, or general, care allowance. The new placement allowance is intended to assist in meeting the immediate or ‘start-up’ costs of caring.


No further action.


Non-government organisation. More commonly referred to as CSO (community service organisation).

Non-accountable undertaking

A sentencing order in which a charge is dismissed upon a child (and if required a parent) giving an undertaking. Non-compliance with such undertaking has no consequences.


An application served on a parent or child inviting or requiring them to come to court at a later date without the child having been taken into custody.


Previous term for a report. See report about child.



Occupational health and safety.

Open court

Proceeding are to be conducted in a court open to the public unless an application to the court for the court to be hear the whole or part of any proceeding in a closed court is granted

On foot

Proceedings which are currently active and still before a court, at either an interim or final stage, and have not been finalised.

Out-of-home care

Out-of-home care refers to services offered by a registered community service organisation (CSO), pursuant to Sections 44 to 72 of Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. Out-of-home Care services provide placement and support services to children and young people, who have been assessed to be at risk by child protection, or where their parents are unable to care for them for a period of time.



Protection application


Defined in very broad terms in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 as including-

(a) the father or mother of the child

(b) the spouse of the father or mother of the child

(c) the domestic partner of the father or mother of the child

(d) a person who has custody of the child or

(e) a person registered as, acknowledged as or declared by a court to be the father of the child.


A statewide telephone counselling, information and referral service for parents and carers with children from birth to eighteen years.


Release of a child or young person from detention in a youth justice training centre or youth residential centre prior to the completion of his or her sentence and subject to supervision by youth justice.


Program and Service Adviser. Previous term for a DHHS officer who manages relationionship and partnership agreements with funded agencies. That role is now performed by local engagement officers.


Parenting Assessment and Skill Development Services


Permanent care order

Permanent care

Permanent care is when children are placed with approved permanent care parents by adoption and permanent care (A&PC) teams, or when an existing foster care or kinship care placement is converted to permanent care by the granting of a permanent care order or an order from the Family Court. Permanent care provides security and stability for children and young people who have entered the child protection system and for whom a decision has been made that they are unable to live safely within their birth family on a long-term basis.

Permanent care order

An order that grants a person (other than a parent or the Secretary) custody and guardianship of a child. Similar to an adoption, but does not change the legal parentage of the child.

Permanent carer

A permanent carer is a volunteer carer who has been approved under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 as suitable to have the custody and guardianship of a child. A permanent carer has made a commitment that the child's placement is intended to continue indefinitely.

Personal information

Information or an opinion that is recorded about a person and which identifies or may identify that person.


Pre-hearing conference.


Protective intervention phase.


The provision of an out-of-home care placement for children and young people unable to live with their parents either in the short or long term.

Police check

See criminal history check.


A framework of principles that guides decision making and activity.

Policy and funding plan

The department prepares a policy and funding plan every three years to inform funded CSO’s of service funding strategies and priorities. An annual update is prepared in the second and third years of the service agreement cycle. The three-year plan provides an overview of the government’s policy framework and the department’s objectives, an outline of strategic initiatives and an overview of the budget. The three-year plan also includes descriptive information regarding service activities, performance measures, data collection requirements, service standards and guidelines.


Progression performance and development.

Progression performance and development system

The progression performance and development (PPD) system enables managers and employees to discuss, agree, plan and document the employee's work, expected behaviours and learning and development for the coming year.

*Practice Clinics

Structured clinics, held by the child protection and Professional Development Unit to provide opportunities for practitioners to demonstrate specific skills and application of knowledge.

Practice leader

Practice leader is a position within the child protection operating model responsible for providing expert case practice advice and leadership; supporting and developing child protection practitioners in the integration of theory and practice while demonstrating expertise through case management. Practice leaders supervise senior child protection practitioners (Community-based), undertakes case practice quality audits and provide regular practice forums and community education.

Practice leader (family-led decision-making)

Practice leader (family-led decision-making) is a position within the child protection operating model responsible for the provision of the family-led decision-making (FLDM) program.

Pre-hearing conference

A form of court ordered dispute resolution no longer in use.

Pre-sentence report

A report prepared by youth justice or the children's court clinic to assist the court in the sentencing of a child or young person found guilty of an offence.

President of the children's court

The chief judicial officer of the children's court of Victoria who is a judge of the County Court appointed as President by the Governor in Council.

Primary care partnerships (PCP)

Primary care partnerships are voluntary alliances comprising health care agencies, medical services, and local and other levels of government, and organisations such as sport clubs, child care agencies and schools.


A sentencing order by which for a specified period a child or young person is supervised by a probation officer and may be required to comply with special conditions imposed by the court.

Problem sexual behaviour

The term used to describe concerning sexual behaviour exhibited by children under the age of 10 years.

Program and Service Adviser

Previous term for a DHHS officer who manages relationionship and partnership agreements with funded agencies. That role is now performed by local engagement officers.

Protected from harm

Being protected from harm means that a child is protected by parents or carers from immediate, cumulative or likely harm to their stability and development. Harm in this context directly refers to the legislative definition in s. 162, CYFA.

Protection application

An application made to the court for a finding that a child is in need of protection from actual or likely abuse.

Protection order

A protection order is an order made by the family division of the children's court for the protection and care of a child.

Protective intervener

A protective intervener is someone authorised by the legislation to receive and investigate reports that a child is in need of protection. Child protection and the police are protective interveners.

Protective plan

A case plan developed following substantiation of abuse or neglect.

Protective services

Previously used term for child protection.


A written agreement between the department and other government or non-government organsitations that defines respective mandates, roles and responsibilities for the protection of children and young people.


Protective services.



Queen Elizabeth Centre. A parenting service that offers specialised support, care and education to families who have children up the age of three years that are seeking support on the challenges of parenthood.



Royal Children’s Hospital.

Record of interview

A formal interview of a defendant by an informant in relation to one or more charges laid by the informant.


A referral is a communication from one professional to another, to recommend that a person  receive a particular service. A child, youth and family service that is managing an intake and referral service may deliver services to a family itself or may refer a family to another health or community service.

Refugee Minor Program

The Refugee Minor Program (RMP) supports the settlement process for refugee minors without parents in Australia and seeks to prevent breakdown in care arrangements through early intervention and assistance.


An historical geographically based organisational unit of the department used prior to the introduction of divisions.


Court administrator


The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 provides a foundation for quality services, through the development of a formal approach to quality assurance by registering community service organisations (CSOs). CSOs are subject to re-registration every three years. To be re-registered a CSO must undertake an external review that assesses compliance with service standards.


Subordinate legislation made under the authority of an Act of Parliament by Governor in Council, for example the Children, Youth and Families Regulations 2007


To be held in custody, for example police cells, youth training centre, prison, awaiting a further court appearance.

Remote witness facility

An audio-visual link between a court room and some other place which enables a witness to give evidence without being in the court room. This is often used to enable evidence to be given by a victim without being in the same room as the alleged perpetrator.

Report about child

A report made to child protection of significant concern for the wellbeing of a child.or suspected child abuse. Certain professionals (including police, teachers, child care workers) are mandated, that is, obliged by law to report suspected child abuse. Previously knows as a notification.

Residential care services

Provide temporary, short or long-term accommodation and care to children and young people (seven years or older) who are unable to be placed in home-based care. Care is provided by paid staff on a roster system.


Resilience is the positive adaptation of an individual within the context of significant adversity. Resilient children and adults have effective coping tools in their handling of stressful events. Coping tools provide the ability to deal with stressful events without becoming overwhelmed. Resilience can be illustrated through two related concepts: risk factors and protective factors.


Respite is a component of home-based care that involves a time-limited placement where a child or young person is placed away from the primary caregiver or current living circumstances.


Otherwise known as initial investigation.


An order requiring a child or young person found guilty of a criminal offence to pay a sum of money to the victim of the offence to try to restore the victim to his or her pre-offence position.

Restorative justice principles

Three principles form the foundation of restorative justice: 1) justice requires that we work to restore those who have been injured; 2) those most directly involved and affected by crime should have the opportunity to participate fully in the response if they wish; 3) government’s role is to preserve a just public order, and the community’s role is to build and maintain a just peace.


Return of a child to the care of a parent.

Risk Level

Risk level is an assessment of the future likelihood of harm to the child, taking account of the consequences to the child of harm and parental capacity to make decisions and take actions to protect the child from harm and promote their safety, stability and healthy development. This decision may be taken concurrently with the substantiation decision or may be deferred pending a period of further protective intervention and assessment.


See Refugee Minor Program

Rules (Children's Court Rules)

Rules made by the President together with two or more magistrates to govern various matters relating to the practice and procedure of the court.



Safety is the foundational dimension for considering a child’s best interests. Adequate safety is a pre-requisite for every child's development and stability. A child experiences safety by having the basic care they need for their immediate and future stability and healthy development and by being protected from any harm.


Supervised custody order.

Secondary services

Secondary services target vulnerable groups or communities who need more intensive support as a result of their particular needs or circumstances. The aims of secondary services are to build family strengths and to reduce risks to the child and young person. Examples include intensive family support services, respite care, community-based mental health services, and drug and alcohol services.


The Secretary (that is, Chief Executive Officer) for the Department of Health & Human Services.

Secure welfare

A secure welfare service is ‘a community service that has lock-up facilities’ that is established under the CYFA. A young person may be placed (via an interim accommodation order) in a secure welfare service by the children’s court, generally at a point prior to an ongoing protection order being made. Child protection may also place a young person in secure welfare who is in the custody, or under the guardianship, of the Secretary. A child or young person must be at substantial and immediate risk of harm to himself or herself in order to be placed in secure welfare.

Self-care skills

An element of the best interests dimension 'development'. It concerns the acquisition by a child of both practical and emotional competencies required for increasing independence. These include learning early practical skills of toileting, dressing and feeding and having opportunities to gain the confidence and skills to undertake activities away from the family. Older children begin acquiring independent living skills. Development of self-care skills involves encouragement to acquire social problem solving skills. Special attention should be given to the impact of disability and other vulnerabilities on the development of self care skills.

Senior child protection practitioner (community based)

Senior child protection practitioner (community based) is a position in the child protection operating model that is co-located in a registered family services agency and a child protection office. The position provides consultancy, advice and community education to agencies on statutory processes and responsibilities, and chairs case conferences and attends home visits with community services organisations where required.

Senior child protection practitioner

Senior child protection practitioner is a position in the child protection operating model responsible for supporting and developing child protection practitioners in the integration of theory and practice whilst demonstrating their expertise through case practice and the supervision of practitioners. The position works collaboratively with the team manager to strengthen case practice, provide effective service delivery and support other practitioners.

Sentencing order

Any order made by the criminal division of the children's court following a finding of guilt.

Sensitive information

Tightly regulated personal information and includes racial, ethnic, political, religious, trade union, sexual or criminal information about an identifiable person.

Service agency

Government department or service provider who may provide services to vulnerable families as defined under s. 3 of the CYFA and r. 7 of the CYF Regulations. A full list of service agencies can be found in Information sharing and child protection practice under information sharing under the CYFA/classes relevant to information sharing.

Service of a court application/document

Provision of an application or other document by one party to another party in the case.

Sexually abusive behaviour treatment services (SABTS)

Sexually abusive behaviour treatment services (SABTS) are funded by the department to deliver:

  • a voluntary therapeutic treatment service for children and young people up to 15 years who have engaged in problem sexual behaviour or sexually abusive behaviour
  • a statutory therapeutic treatment service for young people aged 10 – 14 pursuant to a therapeutic treatment order.


Sexual abuse behaviour treatment service.

Sexually abusive behaviours

The term used to describe concerning sexual behaviour exhibited by children aged 10 years or older.

Sexual Crimes Squad

Differs from SOCIT in that it deals with such matters as serial offenders and child pornography.

Shared care

Where the care of a child is shared between significant persons in the child’s life who may live in different households.

Shared family care (SFC)

A home-based care program that provides respite, short term and long term home-based care placements for children and young people with an intellectual disability or a developmental delay. SFC is delivered by community services organisations as part of their home-based care service.

Shared stories shared lives

The Victorian pre-service training course for potential foster carers used by all community service organisations that deliver home-based care.

Show cause

To demonstrate why a person's remand in custody is not justified.

Sibling group

A sibling group relates to two or more children from the same family.

Significant harm

Significance must be defined in a way that is specific to the case. Justice O'Brien in the Supreme Court (Buckley vs CSV 1992) identified significant as:

  • ‘more than trivial or insignificant, but need not be as high as serious … and
  • (is) ‘important’ or ‘of consequence’ to the child’s development’
  • it need not have lasting or permanent effect, nor necessarily be treatable.

South Division

South Division comprises four service areas, Southern Melbourne, Bayside Peninsula, Inner Gippsland and Outer Gippsland.


Supervision order


Social Welfare Worker. Previous employment classification for child protection practitioner.


Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams are staffed by experienced and qualified Victoria Police detectives specially trained to respond to and investigate sexual assault and child abuse.


Streetwork Outreach Service—a specialist statewide service that works with young people at risk in the central business district and St Kilda.


A person to whom a person is married.

Stability plan

A stability plan is a legal requirement under the CYFA 2005 and forms a component of a child’s best interests plan. The stability plan outlines how a child who is placed out of the care of his/her parents, will receive continuous, stable care in an out-of-home care placement. A stability plan for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child or young person must demonstrate compliance with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.

Stability planning

Stability planning is the process of decision-making by the Secretary that ensures that children are provided with opportunities to form stable attachments and relationships with adults caring for them, so as to enable a child’s healthy development. Stability planning underpins actions to preserve families and to reunify children with their parents quickly if they are removed from home – so that a child experiences continuous, stable relationships with their parents. If a child cannot live safely at home, stability planning will lead to the development of a stability plan to provide for stable care by someone other than the child’s parents.


The right of a person who has a ‘direct interest’ in a child protection case to participate as a party in the hearing of the case.

State guardianship fund

All money received by the Secretary as guardian of a child must be paid to the State Guardianship Fund. The Secretary is required to maintain an account on behalf of each child showing the amount held in credit. Money which is not immediately required for use by a child may be invested in accordance with the Trustee Act 1958, and interest earned must be credited to the account each year.

Money in the account may only be used for the benefit of the child for whom it is held, and with the approval of the Secretary. Once the child reaches 18 years and ceases to be under the guardianship of the Secretary, the money must be paid to the child. If the child ceases to be under the guardianship of the Secretary before the age of 18 years, the Secretary may pay the money to the child or, if the Secretary considers it to be in the interests of the child to do so, retain the money in the account until the child is 18 years old.


Sexually transmitted infection.


A ward of state is someone who as a child or young person was removed from the care of their family or guardian(s) and legally placed in the care of the state. Also referred to as former ward or state ward. The term is no longer used to refer to child protection clients.

Statutory declaration

A statement in writing, other than an affidavit, which contains an acknowledgment by the person making it that it is true and correct and which is signed by the person making it in the presence of a person authorised to witness the signing of a statutory declaration.

Statutory intervention

A case in which child protection issues a protection application in respect of a child. Used in contradistinction to voluntary intervention.

Statutory services

These services are for children who have been at risk of significant harm where intervention is needed to ensure the ongoing safety of the child.

Step by step Victoria

The Victorian competency-based package for assessing of potential home-based carers.

Struck out

A charge or an application, which is withdrawn, is said to be ‘struck out’ of the court list.


The decision determining as to whether a child has experienced (or is currently at risk of) significant harm to their safety, stability or development within the definition of s. 162 of the CYFA.

Summary offence

Offences are divided into two main categories according to seriousness, summary or indictable. Summary offences are generally, but not always of a more minor nature and are heard in the magistrate’s court by a magistrate alone or in the children's court.

Supervised custody order

A protection order which grants sole custody of a child to a person who is neither a parent nor the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services but does not affect the guardianship of the child. The order also gives the Secretary responsibility for the supervision of the order.

Supervision order

A protection order which gives the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services responsibility for the supervision of a child but does not affect the custody or guardianship of the child.


Support, direction and performance monitoring, including teaching, feedback, information provision and accountability functions.


Secure welfare services.


Take Two

The Intensive Treatment Service (Take Two) aims to improve the functioning, safety and well-being of children and young people subject to child protection intervention through the provision of specialist intensive therapeutic counselling and multiple treatment methods aimed at addressing trauma and attachment disorders involving children, their families, and carers and communities where necessary.

Temporary assessment order (TAO)

Where families refuse to cooperate, and impede a child protection investigation about a child or young person, child protection can apply to the children's court for a temporary assessment order (TAO), if child protection has a reasonable suspicion that the child or young person is, or is likely to be, in need of protection.

Tertiary services

Tertiary services target children who have experienced significant harm or who are likely to suffer harm. The main aim of these services is to redress this harm and prevent its recurrence. Examples include child protection, therapeutic services aimed at children and young people who have experienced serious abuse, and out-of-home care services.


Therapeutic foster care.

Therapeutic foster care (TFC)

Therapeutic foster care is a program of home-based care for a child that places emphasis on stability and provides additional supports for the child and carers. Key features of the program are the centrally important role of the care team, the support to the child and the carer and the dedicated involvement of both placement and therapeutic specialist providers.

Therapeutic treatment order (TTO)

A therapeutic treatment order issued by the children’s court requires a child aged at least 10 years and under 18 years of age to attend community based treatment for sexually abusive behaviour.

Therapeutic treatment placement order (TTPO)

A therapeutic treatment placement order issued by the children’s court requires a child aged at least 10 years and under 18 years of age to reside in out-of-home care to ensure their attendance and participation in community based treatment for sexually abusive behaviour.

Therapeutic treatment report (TTR)

A report made to child protection about a child aged 10 years or over and under 18 years by a person who believes that the child has exhibited sexually abusive behaviours.


Telephone Interpreter Service. A national interpreting service available to people who do not speak English and for English speakers needing to communicate with them. It is available to anyone in Australia for the cost of a local call and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transition plan (or exit plan)

A plan for transition or exit from the child protection system that forms part of a child or young person's best interests plan and is developed at least six months prior to the planned date of discharge.


Therapeutic Treatment Board.


Therapeutic treatment order.


Therapeutic treatment placement order.


Therapeutic treatment report.



A promise made to the court. May either be oral or in writing.

Undisclosed placement

A temporary residence for the child whose address is not disclosed to the parents.

Universal services

Universal services are available to all children in the community and aim to promote child well-being, including health, education and social development objectives. Examples are general practitioners, maternal and child health services, child care centres, and schools.



Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.


An alteration (usually of conditions) of a court order.


Video/Audio Taped Evidence conducted by a qualified police officer.

Victim Impact Statement

Oral or written statement made by a victim of crime that may be taken into account by a magistrate or judge when determining a sentence.

Victorian Children's Council

The Victorian Children's Council is an expert body advising the Victorian Government on policy and service development in relation to children and families.

Viva voce evidence

Spoken evidence (as opposed to evidence by statement or affidavit).


Victorian Legal Aid.

Voluntary placement

Voluntary placements are those with no court order requiring the child or young person to live in a placement provided by an established or approved community service organisation. The Children, Youth and Families Act allows the voluntary placement (with no court order) of a child or young person in a placement provided by a community service. To achieve a voluntary placement a short or long term child care agreement between the parent/guardian and the CSO must be completed. A child care agreement is a written agreement with a service provider, signed by the parent(s),and young person where appropriate, that gives permission for a child or young person to live in a placement provided by that CSO as stipulated in sections 133 to 161 of the CYFA.


Victorian Risk Framework. An assessment framework no longer in use. Current child protection practice is guided by the best interests case practice model.



An authorisation, generally issued by a judicial officer and directed to a person in authority. Often this is an authority to take a person into custody and bring the person before the court.

White paper

A white paper is published by the government when it wants to set out its policies and plans on a particular issue. A white paper invites public comment on legislative proposals.

West Division

West Division comprises five service areas, Western Melbourne, Brimbank Melton, Barwon, Central Highlands and Western District.

Working with Children Check (WWCC)

The Working with Children (WWC) Check is an initiative of the Victorian Government and is administered by the Department of Justice & Regulation. The WWC Check helps to protect children from sexual or physical harm by checking a person's criminal history for serious sexual, serious violent or serious drug offences and the person’s work history with specific professional disciplinary bodies for certain findings.


Working with Children Check



Youth attendance order (YAO)

A youth attendance order (YAO) is a sentence given by the children’s court to a young person aged greater than 15 years and whose offence occurred prior to their 18th birthday. A YAO is a community-based disposition that is a direct alternative to receiving a custodial sentence. A young person on a YAO is required to report to a youth justice unit for up to ten hours per week, and involves a community service work component.

Youth justice

The Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for the statutory supervision of young people in the criminal justice system. The department provides programs and resources to assist these young people to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to manage their lives effectively without further offending. Through supervision, offending related programs and linkages to appropriate support services, the department promotes opportunities for rehabilitation and contributes to the reduction of crime in the community

Youth justice group conference

See group conference

Youth residential centre order

A sentencing order by which a child or young person aged between 10 and 14 years is sentenced to be detained in a youth residential centre for a specified period.

Youth supervision order

A sentencing order by which a child or young person is supervised by a youth justice officer and may be required to comply with special conditions imposed by the court. The level of supervision is generally higher than that involved with a probation order for a specified period.

Youth justice centre order

A sentencing order by which a young person aged between 15 and 17 years is sentenced by a court to be detained in a youth justice centre for a specified period. Young people aged 18 to 20 years may be sentenced to a youth training centre order by an adult court (Magistrates County or Supreme) following a suitability assessment if the court deems that they have reasonable prospects for rehabilitation or are immature or likely to be subjected to undesirable influences in an adult prison (that is, vulnerable).