Children in immigration detention
Follow this procedure when working with children subject to immigration detention. This procedure applies to both children held in an immigration detention facility and children in immigration detention subject to a residence determination (community detention).
Document ID number 1609, version 4, 17 July 2020.
This procedure is intended to complement the roles and responsibilities established in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Home Affairs (previously known as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) relating to children in immigration detention in Victoria. Refer to the MOU for a comprehensive understanding of the roles and responsibilities of child protection and the Department of Home Affairs when working together to promote the safety and wellbeing of children in immigration detention.
For further information see advice Children in immigration detention - advice
Case practitioner tasks
- Record, assess and classify a report concerning a child in immigration detention in the same manner as any other report.
- Ask the reporter about the child’s immigration status and cultural identity and record this information on CRIS.
- Advise the Department of Home Affairs of the report without disclosing the reporter details, in all instances where a report is received concerning a child in immigration detention (contact information for the Department of Home Affairs is available in the MOU).
- Ask the family about their immigration history and whether they are subject to a residence determination or visa, and if so what restrictions these include, if any.
- Seek to sight documentation regarding the child’s and family’s immigration status.
- Request information about the child and family’s immigration status, including any conditions placed on them, from the Department of Home Affairs where the family are unclear, or unable, to provide this information.
- Carry out the investigation in the same manner as other investigations. See procedures in Investigation phase for tasks that must be undertaken.
- If a child is residing in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA), MITA staff should be contacted to advise that you will be attending to conduct a first visit.
- Discuss with MITA staff how you can best work with them to promote a collaborative approach to ensuring the best interests of the child can be determined and met, noting the MOU requires MITA staff to assist with an investigation.
- Provide the Department of Home Affairs with regular updates on the progress of the investigation, where practicable, and advise where your require their cooperation to keep the child safe.
- At the conclusion of an investigation, determine whether the report is substantiated and follow the usual procedure of either closing the case or moving it to protective intervention.
- Advise the Department of Home Affairs of the outcome of the investigation, including where a decision is to close the case.
- If the concerns are substantiated a case plan is to be developed. Case planning requirements are outlined in s.166 – 168 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.
- Where it is determined a protection application (PA) is not necessary, work with the family voluntarily to implement the case plan.
- If it is determined a PA is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child, consult with your supervisor or team manager.
- Consult with the Child Protection Litigation Office (CPLO) or your local divisional legal representative as early as possible, informing them about the child’s immigration status.
- Advise the Department of Home Affairs of the decision to issue a PA and, wherever possible, work with the Department of Home Affairs to explore alternative options to protect the child.
- Request the Department of Home Affairs seek the cooperation of the Minister for Home Affairs in the execution of the PA, where you are requesting the Children’s Court makes an order for out-of-home care. It will be necessary for the Minister to make an amendment to the child’s residence determination if the child is to be placed at a new address.
- Ensure you have up to date information about the child's immigration status.
- If any issues arise in the course of protective intervention or case planning that are specific to the child being in immigration detention, for example, if a decision you make conflicts with a decision by the Department of Home Affairs, consult your supervisor or team manager.
- Update the case plan in light of a protection order being made, if required, and continue to implement the case plan, ensuring any conditions on the protection order are adhered to as you would any child subject to a protection order.
- Establish a care team, where appropriate and invite the Department of Home Affairs to participate.
- Ensure you have an understanding of the child’s immigration status and what this means for the child.
- Confirm with the Department of Home Affairs what their planning is for the child (and their family) and ask to be kept updated if any significant decisions are made relating to the child’s immigration status.
- Make necessary arrangements for contact consistent with the court order.
- If any issues arise in the course of administering the order and providing for the child‘s care and wellbeing that are specific to the child being in immigration detention, consult with your supervisor or team manager.
Team manager or practice leader tasks
- Advise the child protection unit, children and families branch of any investigations involving children in held immigration detention.
- Read the MOU to ensure you have a full understanding of the roles and responsibilities of child protection and the Department of Home Affairs with respect to a child in immigration detention who is in need of protection.
- Work collaboratively with the Department of Home Affairs across all phases of child protection involvement and consider developing local relationships with relevant officers from the Department of Home Affairs to support case practice.
- Endorse the case plan and any changes to it.
- Seek to resolve any disagreements with the Department of Home Affairs at an operational level, in accordance with the procedure established in the MOU. If the issue cannot be resolved at an operational level, advise the Director, Child Protection and Care, children and families branch, for example if there is disagreement with the Department of Home Affairs about a case planning decision and efforts to resolve this issue have been unsuccessful. In some situations, it may be necessary for the child protection unit, children and families branch to manage issues directly with the Department of Home Affairs .
- If it is determined a protection application is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a child residing in MITA, consult with legal services as soon as possible.
- If a protection application is being issued for a child subject to community detention, ensure a consultation has taken place with the CPLO or a divisional legal officer, and that you provide them with information about the child’s immigration status.
If you receive a media enquiry or become aware of any media activity about a child in immigration detention with whom you are working, advise your supervisor as soon as possible and follow the steps outlined in procedure Publication of identifying details.