4. Respond to an order requesting intervention by the department - section 91B orders

4.1 Section 91B orders

During proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975, a family court may make an order under section 91B, requesting the intervention of the chief executive. This order enables the family court to alert the department to current proceedings in the family court, which in turn, enables investigation by departmental officers as to what related information the department may hold and how best this may be presented to the family court, without the onerous need for the department to intervene on every occasion.

Family courts consider making a '91B order' in circumstances where:

  • neither parent/party to the proceedings seems likely to be in the child’s interests or may be a viable carer
  • one of the parties in the proceedings, or family court personnel, report concerns about harm or risk of harm to a child, to the department
  • there is some evidence of the prior involvement by the department with the child and family
  • an ICL has been appointed for the child.

Upon receiving the 91B order, the manager, Court Services, will:

  • email the CSSC or RIS to advise them of the making of the order
  • if necessary, discuss the making of the order with the CSSC or RIS manager or other relevant departmental officers
  • forward a copy of the order to the CSSC or RIS
  • if necessary, make arrangements with the family court to search and take copies of the relevant documents on the court file
  • advise the ICL, in writing, of the relevant CSSC or RIS and provide a summary of any relevant departmental history on the child or children
  • advise the CSSC or RIS of the ICL's name and contact details
  • notify the relevant family court, by completing and forwarding to the court the completed CSSC response 91B letter of:
    • whether or not the department intends to intervene in the proceedings at that stage
    • relevant information about the child and family, including whether there has been any previous departmental involvement, if there is a child protection order for the child and where there is an order, the type of order and when it ceases
  • forward a copy of the completed CSSC response 91B letter to the CSSC or RIS manager.

The CSSC or RIS will attach the order to the relevant event in ICMS and provide relevant information to assist Court Services in deciding the most appropriate response to the making of the 91B order.

The family court may not make a costs order against the department when the department intervenes in the proceedings following a section 91B request, and has acted in good faith.

The department is entitled but not compelled to intervene in proceedings under section 91B.

4.2 Magellan matters, including a section 91B order

When a case is designated a Magellan matter, the Family Court of Australia forwards a Magellan notification, requesting intervention by the department (91B order) and the preparation of a Magellan report, to Court Services. Court Services will:

  • inform the CSSC or RIS of the Magellan matter via email
  • forward a copy of the order to the CSSC or RIS
  • advise the ICL, in writing, of the relevant CSSC or RIS
  • advise the CSSC or RIS of the ICL's name and contact details
  • liaise with the CSSC or RIS, to prepare and complete the Magellan report.

In response to the Magellan matter, the CSSC or RIS will:

  • attach the order to the relevant event in ICMS
  • provide information to assist Court Services in preparing the Magellan report
  • endorse the Magellan report.

Following endorsement by the CSSC or RIS of the Magellan report, Court Services will provide a copy of the report to the Family Court of Australia (Magellan Judge), the ICL and the CSSC or RIS.

Note: A copy of the Magellan report may also be provided by the court to the parties to the family law proceedings.

In addition to preparing a Magellan report, the CSSC or RIS and Court Services may be required to liaise with the ICL - refer to 2.2 Independent Children's Lawyers.

For further information, refer to the Protocol between the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and the Department of Child Safety Queensland.