3. Assess information received about harm or risk of harm

As with general intake matters, when the department is provided with information about harm or risk of harm to a child subject to family court orders or proceedings, or whose parents reside separately, the information is assessed to decide the appropriate departmental response.

In addition to existing intake procedures, assess the information provided and decide the departmental response, having regard to the considerations outlined below.

3.1 Official notification by family court personnel or a party to parenting proceedings (Form 4 notice)

The Family Law Act 1975 requires the department to be notified about allegations of child abuse or family violence. Specifically, where a party to proceedings before a family court alleges that a child to whom the proceedings relate has been abused or is at risk of being abused, or where a specified staff member of the family court has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a child has been abused or is at risk of being abused, the department is notified of the concerns as follows, either by:

The family court forwards the completed form and any other relevant information to the Data Management Services (DMS). This documentation is then forwarded to the relevant RIS, by DMS.

Court Services is to be consulted if the RIS requires further advice about responding to notifications from the family court.

For further information about responding to this information, refer to Chapter 1, 8. What if child protection concerns are received from the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia? and the Protocol between the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and the Department of Child Safety Queensland.

3.2 Consider the implications of an existing parenting order

Parenting orders include orders stating the persons with whom the child is to live and the persons the child is to spend time with and communicate with. Further information about parenting orders is provided in the practice resource Working with family courts (PDF, 36 KB).

When a family court order is in place, the protective parent may be willing to protect the child, but may not be able to do so because of an order requiring the child to live, or have contact, with the non-protective parent. This consideration will inform the information to be gathered from the notifier at intake, to assess whether a child has been harmed, is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed, and whether they have a parent able and willing to protect them.

It is important not to assume that a child is not in need of protection because a protective parent has taken action to notify the department.

Where the source of the information received is a parent of the child, it is important not to assume that the parent is a vexatious or malicious notifier.

When information is received that a child is suspected of being harmed or at risk of harm by a parent, where there are family court parenting orders in place, gather all relevant information from the notifier, conduct a child protection history check and where necessary, a pre-notification check and assess and decide the departmental response in accordance with procedure outlined in Chapter 1. Intake.