The practice dictionary provides users with a comprehensive list and description of titles, process names, and acronyms and descriptions related to child protection practice.
A practice activity
Within the SAFER children framework, the “A” activity stands for analyse the information and evidence to determine the risk assessment. The activity has three elements: analysis, judgement and decisions.
Adoption and Permanent Care
Acquired brain injury.
Aboriginal Best Start
Aboriginal Best Start projects have been established to make sure that local Aboriginal communities and organisations are given every possible opportunity to influence outcomes for their children and families. These projects are designed to empower communities and families and develop broad cross-sectoral partnerships across all early years services to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and their families.
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 Children in Aboriginal Care
Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC) is a program that enables an approved Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) to take on responsibility for an Aboriginal child’s case management and case plan. This allows the ACCO to actively work with the child’s family, community and other professionals to develop and implement the child’s case plan and achieve their permanency objective in a way that is culturally safe and in the best interests of the child.
Section 18 of the CYFA enables the Secretary of the DHHS to authorise the principal officer of an Aboriginal agency to undertake specified functions and powers in relation to a Children’s Court protection order for an Aboriginal child or young person.
Responsibility for Aboriginal children on the following protection orders made in the family division of the Children’s Court can be transferred to authorised ACCOs:
- family preservation orders
- family reunification orders
- care by Secretary orders
- long-term care orders.
The ACAC program does not include Interim accommodation orders or orders made in the criminal division of the Children’s Court.
Traditional kinship relations continue to play a significant role in Aboriginal communities. While Australian family life often centres on the nuclear family made up of parents and children, Aboriginal family life includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and the Aboriginal community or ‘Mob’. An Aboriginal person’s land, sea, sky, rivers, sites, seasons, plants and animals; place of heritage, belonging and spirituality; is called ‘Country’. Highly respected Aboriginal people held in esteem by their communities for their wisdom, cultural knowledge and community service are referred to as elders. They are often responsible for making decisions within the community.
Aboriginal cultural safety
The department defines cultural safety as:
A strategic and institutional reform to remove any barriers to optimal health, wellbeing and safety outcomes for people.
Cultural safety is an environment which is safe for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, where there is no assault, challenge, or denial of their identity and experience.
Cultural safety is about individuals, organisations and systems taking responsibility for ensuring:
- their own cultural values do not negatively impact on Aboriginal peoples
- supporting self-determination for Aboriginal peoples – this includes sharing power.
(Departmental cultural safety terminology tip sheet 2020)
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 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 planning and care and placement planning.
Aboriginal person means a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community.
This is a defined term under the CYFA (s. 3) and is used in specific contexts in the Act, for example, in s. 18.
Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation.
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.
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 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.
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 or ACCO 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.
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.
Adverse childhood experiences
Adverse childhood experiences are childhood experiences that have an impact on a person’s physical health and psychological wellbeing in their adulthood. Adverse childhood experiences include:
- emotional abuse
- psychological abuse
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- exposure to substance misuse or abuse
- exposure to mental illness
- exposure to family violence
- exposure to criminal behaviour.
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.
Aboriginal family-led decision making.
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 or ACCO).
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.
Friend of the court.
Within the SAFER children framework, analysis is one of the three elements of the “A” practice activity. The three elements are analysis, judgement and decisions. Within the analysis element there are four dimensions: vulnerability of the child; severity of harm; likelihood of harm and safety.
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.
‘ATSI’ is an acronym that stands for Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander. Its use should be avoided wherever possible as it is considered disrespectful by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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.
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 DFFH child protection practitioners. Bail justices are employed in a voluntary capacity.
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, wellbeing 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. The best interests framework is articulated for children and family services in the best interests case practice model summary guide (2012).
For Child Protection, the SAFER children framework published in November 2021, provides the risk assessment practice guidance for Victoria’s child protection workforce. The best interests case practice summary guide practice approaches of relationship building, engagement, partnership and empowerment, continue to underpin child protection practice.
Best interests plan
NO LONGER IN USE, see Case Plan.
Best interests planning
NO LONGER IN USE, see Case planning.
Best interests principles
The best interests principles that apply as the paramount consideration for the family division of the court, child protection and community service organisations operating under the CYFA, specified in Section 10.
Best Start is a whole of government early years initiative auspiced by the Department of Education and Training (DET) to support families and caregivers to provide the best possible environment, experiences and care for children from birth to age eight. The program focuses on children experiencing vulnerability and all Aboriginal children, boosting participation in the programs such as kindergarten and maternal and child health (MCH) services. The program also puts in place prevention strategies, such as providing referral pathways when targeted supports are required.
Best interests plan - NO LONGER IN USE- see Case plan.
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.
CALD is an acronym that stands for culturally and linguistically diverse. CALD can be used as an inclusive term, similar to “multicultural”, to describe Australia's cultural and linguistic variety.
CALD is generally used to refer to those who originate (or have parents who originate) from a country where English is not the dominant language or where cultural norms and values differ from the predominant cultural norms and values present in Australia. Typically, this means CALD peoples are not native-English-speaking Anglo-Saxons/Celtics or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. CALD peoples comprise a significant proportion of Australia's population.
Effective engagement with CALD families requires that practitioners are culturally competent through demonstrating respect for and understanding of culture. Such practice is linked to improvements in health and wellbeing for CALD families. It is important to be aware that CALD peoples may have had adverse experiences that impact on their capacity to trust practitioners. These experiences might include historical dispossession, collective grief, loss or trauma.
Different cultures use different child-rearing practices. However, the kinds of behaviours that cause harm – such as neglect, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse – are universal, and must always be addressed, regardless of cultural background.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Specialist mental health services, providing assessment and treatment services for children and young people up to 18 years.
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 by Secretary order (CBSO)
A care by Secretary order confers parental responsibility for the child on the Secretary to the exclusion of all others. A care by Secretary order is appropriate when a child has been in an out-of-home care for a period of 24 months, or earlier where it has been determined that a child will not be able to safely return to the care of a parent and the appropriate permanency objective is adoption, or permanent care, long-term out-of-home care.
(a) A young person over the age of 16 years who has been on a care by Secretary or long-term care 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.
The care teams exists to strengthen communication and collaboration between carers, departmental 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 child. The care teams develops the care and placement plan and contributes to the case 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/s, 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.
A case contract is a formal written agreement between the department and a community service organisation (CSO or ACCO) regarding the case management of an individual child protection client by the organisation; or the provision of case management tasks on behalf of child protection.
Case management is the coordination and delivery of services provided as part of a case plan.
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 in child protection practice relates to the process of planning with children and their families following substantiation of child protection concerns. All case planning processes must comply with the best interests principles in s.10 of the CYFA and decision-making principles in ss. 11 to 14 of the CYFA. These sections set out the considerations that Child Protection, CSOs and ACCOs must have when determining whether a decision or action is in the child’s best interests - and they require that families and children (in age-appropriate ways) are actively and effectively engaged in the decision-making process.
The case planning process results in the development of a case plan.
The person allocated the primary responsibility of overseeing implementation of the child or young person’s case plan. This can be either a departmental or CSO or ACCO employee.
Client and Service Information System. Former child protection electronic database replaced by CRIS.
A catchment area is the geographical area for which the service is provided – for example a local government area (LGA).
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.
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)
Broadly, 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. See definition of 'child' in s. 3 of the CYFA for more detail.
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, wellbeing 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
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 Information Sharing Scheme
The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS), 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.
The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing 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 long-term family care arrangement, or an independent living arrangement, depending on the age and circumstances of the child or young person.