Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Information for independent persons

Transcript - Information for independent persons (DOCX, 14 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 their say. The child and family can have a person, who is not part of Chid Safety, to help make sure their voice is heard. The person is called an independent person.

It may not be possible for the child and family to have an independent person when urgent action is needed to protect a child or when there are serious safety concerns.

How can an independent person help?

Being an independent person means you can help a child and their family have a say when an important decision is being made about:

  • how the family can keep the child safe – during an investigation and assessment, safety planning or case planning
  • Child Safety working with the family after an investigation and assessment
  • when the 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 the child’s life.

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

  • whether she wants help before her baby is born
  • how to keep her newborn baby safe.

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

When the Childrens Court is making a decision, the child or family may ask you to be their independent person to come to Court. If you agree, this means the Court could ask you for information about the child’s culture.

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

What does being an independent person involve?

As an independent person, you don’t make the decisions or help to make decisions. You help the child, or the child and members of the child’s family, to have a say in the decisions that affect them.

You help them:

  • feel strong and supported so that they can have their say in decisions
  • tell Child Safety about their family, culture, community and family network
  • explain things about their culture that need to be thought about when decisions are made.

The child or family can ask you to help them explain things to Child Safety.

You can help Child Safety understand things because you know the child and family or you know about their culture.

You can help the child and family talk with Child Safety about were to hold meetings so that they feel comfortable.

Can you be an 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.

If you agree to be an independent person, Child Safety will check that you meet these requirements.

You do not need to have a Working with Children Check (“Blue Card.”)

Child Safety will check that:

  • you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person and a member of their family, mob, community or a member of an organisation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.
  • you know about the child and family’s culture and what that means to them.
  • you feel able to help the child and family have their say when making decisions with Child Safety
  • you are a safe person to be the child and family’s independent person.

Child Safety will do this by:

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

It would be a conflict of interest for you to be the independent person if, for example, you want to focus on your own opinions or issues instead of the child or family’s.

You cannot be an independent person if there is a conflict of interest.

Any child protection information held on Child Safety’s records about you will only stop you from being an independent person if the records are about something serious that could be a risk to the child. Child Safety might need to get more information from you to decide if there may be a risk to the child.

If there would be a risk to the child, Child Safety will let you know that you cannot be an independent person. Child Safety will tell the child and family that you cannot be the independent person. Child Safety will not tell them why, unless you agree to Child Safety telling them.

Arranging for you to help when a decision is being made

The child safety officer will give you information about the decision making process. The child safety officer will also arrange for you to help the child or child and family take part in making the decision.

You may be asked to be their independent person each time an important decision is being made or to be the independent person for only one decision or some decisions.

What if the child or family live far away?

Sometimes the child and family will live near you and you will be able to go to meetings with them and Child Safety.

Sometimes you may be able to be there on the phone or a video call.

In some cases, a community organisation or the child safety officer might be able to help you get to a meeting.

What if the child and family do not want to have the same independent person?

That’s OK. Each member of the child’s family can have a different independent person, or they can have one person for the whole family.

What if you change your mind?

You can agree to be the independent person for the child or family for a particular decision, some decisions or every decision.

If you agree to be an independent person and later change your mind, that’s OK too. Just tell your child safety officer you do not want to be the independent person any more. You can tell the child or family you do not want to be their independent person or you can ask the child safety officer to tell them.

Keeping personal information private

You will hear personal information about the child and family when you help them take part in decisions. You will need to keep their personal information private.

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, an independent person is not allowed to tell anyone else what was talked about at a meeting or to show anyone the child and family’s personal information. Telling or showing their information to another person is an offence and penalties apply.

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, the child safety officer can give you the information you need about the child and family to be their independent person. You can give the child safety officer information they need to arrange for you to be the independent person. This would include information about the decision that needs to be made, the date, time and location of a meeting.

For more information about being an independent person

Contact the child’s 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.