The department needs to be aware of all interstate or overseas movement of a child subject to a Children’s Court order because the child is leaving the jurisdiction of the Court.
Who can give consent will depend on the order and permanency objective, the nature and timing of the travel. Where the travel is planned in advance, carers may be authorised to consent in some circumstances.
Case practitioner tasks
- Undertake an assessment of the benefits and risks of the proposed trip and make a recommendation about the travel to the responsible team manager. Consider:
- purpose of the travel and the travel itinerary
- how long the travel is for
- who will be supervising the travel
- who else may be travelling with the child
- how to contact the child and supervising adult during the travel (if possible the child and supervising adult should always be contactable)
- how the trip will promote the child's wellbeing and development
- whether the travel supports or adversely impacts the child's case plan
- the child’s views and wishes
- the child’s specific medical requirements, special care or dietary requirements
- any medical issues associated with the travel destination. That is, risk of tropical diseases, risk of infection, need for immunisation, availability of emergency medical treatment and medical insurance
- whether the plans contradict any condition of a court order, such as contact arrangements
- financial implications
- current travel advice from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘Smart Traveller’ website.
Consent for travel would generally not be given where there is current government advice not to travel to the destination.
- When assessing prospective carers in another state or obtaining police checks on adults with whom the child may have contact, request advice from the interstate liaison team on any procedures that may relevant to a state or country the child intends to travel to.
- Seek parents’ or guardian's views for overseas travel, or interstate travel that would occur after a child’s anticipated reunification with a parent or guardian, obtain written parental consent if the child is subject to an Interim Accommodation Order (IAO) or the permanency objective is reunification. Allow four to six weeks to obtain parental or guardian consent and respond to issues.
- If a passport application is necessary – see Passports.
- Liaise with Youth Justice and others where relevant. Check that the proposed travel does not coincide with scheduled Youth Justice criminal court dates or other known commitments, such as, Youth Justice court order conditions or community orders.
- Establish, or review if previously prepared, a risk management or contingency plan.
- Ensure that a return ticket has been purchased and confirm a return date by sighting the ticket where there is any risk the child may not be returned to Australia.
- Advise your supervisor to determine appropriate action if the child has not returned to Australia on the expected return date. Consider seeking legal advice.
- Complete all necessary documentation in CRIS including decisions and rationales.
Children subject to an IAO
It is not appropriate for a child subject to an IAO to travel interstate or overseas unless this is a condition of the IAO or every party gives consent.
- Consult your supervisor about whether to make an application to vary the conditions of the IAO if travel is being considered.
Children subject to family preservation
- Consult your supervisor and seek approval from the team manager for interstate or overseas travel.
- Where there is disagreement between the parent or guardian and Child Protection, with the parent or guardian intending to travel interstate or overseas with the child, consult your supervisor and consider whether to seek to vary the conditions of the order to prevent the travel.
- Where a parent or guardian acts against a condition or an order or a case planning decision and travels interstate or overseas with a child, or allows a child to travel with a third party, consult your supervisor and take action to have the child returned to Victoria.
- If interstate, consider an interstate warrant and advice from the Interstate Liaison Team. See Interstate warrant.
- If overseas, consult Legal Services and consider whether to make an application under the Child Protection Hague Convention to have the child returned to Australia.
Children in care
- For proposed interstate travel, the team manager's written approval is required.
- Where travel plans are known in advance consider authorising the carer to make travel decisions about the specific trip planned.
- Seek parental or guardian consent in writing if the permanency objective is family reunification and the travel will occur after the anticipated date of reunification.
- For proposed international travel:
- for children on a family reunification order, care by Secretary order or long-term care order, prepare written advice for the Deputy Area Operations Manager or Director, Child Protection setting out the proposed travel and seeking written approval
- seek parental or guardian consent in writing if the child is subject to a family reunification order.
- If proposed travel will clash with parental contact, balance the importance of the travel with contact when making a decision about the travel.
- If contact visits are missed as a result of travel, make alternative arrangements for contact, where they are determined by the case planner. Where they are a condition of an order, seek written parental or guardian consent or apply to vary the order.
- If the proposed travel includes participation in a high-risk activity, complete the 'Permission to participate in an activity' form.
- Provide ongoing supervision and support.
Team manager tasks
- Endorse interstate travel for children on protection orders.
- Endorse international travel for children on family preservation orders.
Deputy area operations manager or Director, child protection tasks
- Endorse travel outside of Australia for children on family reunification orders, care by Secretary orders and long-term care orders.