Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Information for families

Transcript - Children and Families (DOCX, 15 KB)

When Child Safety is making an important decision about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, the child and the child’s family have a right to have a say and to have an independent person help make sure their voice is heard.

When can my independent person help me?

Your independent person can help you when Child Safety talks with you about important decisions that may need to be made. The decisions may be about things like:

  • how your family can keep your child safe – during an investigation and assessment, safety planning or case planning
  • Child Safety working with your family after an investigation and assessment
  • when your child can’t live safely at home – helping decide with who and where they will live and how they can keep seeing the people who are important to them and their culture
  • any other decision likely to have an impact on your child’s life.

If you are a pregnant woman, your independent person can help you talk with Child Safety about:

  • whether you want help before your baby is born
  • how to keep your newborn baby safe.

If the Childrens Court needs to make a decision about your child, the Court will want information about your child’s culture. The Court may want to ask you, your child or an independent person for the information.

You may want an independent person to come to Court with you in case the Court wants to ask your independent person about your child’s culture.

The Court will also want to know how Child Safety considered your child’s culture when decisions were made. Child Safety will give the Court this information.

It may not be possible for an independent person to be involved in decisions when urgent action is needed to protect a child or when there are serious safety concerns.

You do not have to have an independent person help you have your say if you do not want to.

How does having an independent person help me?

  • An independent person can help you have your say by just being there, making you feel like someone’s there for you so you can tell Child Safety what you think when a decision is being made.
  • Your independent person can help you explain what’s going on for you. They can help Child Safety understand things you do or say, because they know you or they know a lot about your culture.
  • Your independent person can help you talk with Child Safety about where to hold meetings so you feel safe and comfortable.

Who can be my independent person?

The Child Protection Act 1999 says that an independent person must be:

  • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, or
  • a group whose members includes Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons

And a person or group that either:

  • provides services to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people or
  • represent your child’s community or language group or
  • be a person who:
    • is of significance to your child or family, and
    • is a suitable person for associating on a daily basis with your child, and
    • can speak about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture in relation to your child or family, and
    • is not employed by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.

And a person that Child Safety is satisfied is suitable be an independent person.

You can choose an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person from your family, your mob, your community or an organisation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.

Your independent person should be someone who knows about your culture and what that means to you.

If you do not have someone you could ask, a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community organisation may be able to help you find someone to be your independent person. Child Safety can let you know about organisations in your local area.

An independent person does not need to have a Working with Children Check (“Blue Card.”)

Deciding if someone is suitable to be your independent person

Once you have told Child Safety who you would like to have as your independent person, Child Safety will check that the person meets the requirements to be an independent person, including whether they are a safe person to have as your independent person.

Child Safety does this by:

  • asking you about the person
  • asking the person if they agree to be your independent person
  • seeing if there is any reason why it would be a conflict of interest for the person to be your independent person
  • looking at any child protection records the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women has about the person.

It would be a conflict of interest for a person to be your independent person if, for example, they want to focus on their own opinions or issues. A person cannot be your independent person if there is a conflict of interest.

If the person has a child protection record, this information will only stop them from being your independent person if there is something serious recorded that could be a risk to your child. Child Safety might need to get more information from the person to decide if they are suitable.

If the person would be a risk to your child, Child Safety will let the person know they cannot be your independent person. Child Safety will tell you the person cannot be your independent person but cannot tell you about the person’s child protection records unless the person agrees.

Child Safety will tell you when a person is not suitable and ask you to choose another person to be your independent person. 

Arranging for your independent person to help when a decision is being made

You can tell your independent person about the decision that needs to be made. Your child safety officer can do this with you or can tell the independent person if you want them to.

Your child safety officer will give the independent person information about the decision making process and arrange for them to help you take part in making the decision with Child Safety.

You can ask the same person to be your independent person each time an important decision is being made or you can ask different people to be your independent person for different decisions.

What if the person I choose lives far away?

Sometimes your independent person will live near you and will be able to come to meetings with you, your family and Child Safety.

Sometimes your independent person may be able to be there on the phone or a video call.

In some cases, a community organisation or your child safety officer might be able to help your independent person get to a meeting.

What if the person I choose is different from the person my child or partner chooses?

That’s OK. Every member of your family can have a different independent person, or you can have one person for the whole family.

What if I change my mind?

You can have the same person for every decision or a different person each time a decision is being made.

If you choose someone and you change your mind, that’s OK too. Just tell your child safety officer you do not want the person to be your independent person any more.

Will my personal information be kept private?

Your independent person will receive personal information about you relating to keeping your child safe, when helping you take part in decisions. Under the Child Protection Act 1999, an independent person is not allowed to tell other people about your personal information. Sharing confidential information is an offence and penalties apply.

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, your child safety officer and your independent person may give each other information needed to arrange for the independent person to help you take part in making a decision or to provide support to you. This would include information about the date, time or location of a meeting.

For more information about arranging to have an independent person

Contact the local Child Safety Service Centre.

Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.