If you can't live safely where you are anymore, somebody else must become your guardian.
Your guardian is the person in charge of the Department for Child Protection, called the Chief Executive.
Having your say is very important.
The new laws mean that people have to listen to you more and take your views, thoughts and feelings into account when making decisions about your life.
If this seems too hard, you can always tell your carer or someone else you trust instead, so they can share how you are feeling and what you want.
Once every year, someone from the Department for Child Protection will meet with you and your carer to talk about how you are going. This is called an ‘annual review’. You will be able to talk about what you think, and what you would like to happen over the next year. If you don’t want to talk, you can ask someone to speak for you.
Your voice matters and you have a right to be part of decisions that impact your life.
When your mum, dad or other person you live with cannot care for you, there are other people who will look after you. You may live with and be cared for by someone from your family or community, a foster care family or in a house supported by professional carers in residential care.
Getting to know a carer
Before you move in with a foster or kinship carer, we will tell you lots of things about the people who may care for you. This might include:
- their name
- where they live
- what they do for work
- if there are other kids that live in the house
- where you might go to school
- the culture of the people you will be living with.
If you are moving into residential care, you will be introduced to the main people who will look after you. You’ll also meet any other children or young people who you might live with.
You can also ask your case worker more questions or things you would like to know about where and who you will be living with.
Helping your carer get to know you
Your carer will also get some information about you, so they can take care of you in the best way possible from the start. This might include:
- your name
- how old you are
- your likes and interests
- your cultural background
- your religious beliefs
- information about your family
- information about your health and education.
If there are things you don’t want your carers to know, you can tell your case worker. We will always accept your wishes unless it is something your carer needs to know to help care for you.
While you are living with your relatives or a carer, your case worker’s supervisor is now responsible for decisions about seeing your family. This is called a contact arrangement.
You can always talk to your carer or case workers about how you feel about visits. It’s important to share how you feel about these visits with your carer or case worker so that together we can do what is best for you.
If you don’t agree with a decision made about you, first talk to your carer, case worker or another adult that you trust.
If you don’t agree with a decision that has been made about your contact arrangements, you can also ask for it to be looked at by a group of people called the Contact Arrangements Review Panel. They can review decisions about who you see and talk to, like your mum and dad, brothers and sisters and other people in your family and community.
Sometimes the court will make decisions about how to keep you safe.
This might include things like who you should live with and making sure you are taken care of. As part of the new law, the Court will be asked to think about other things for you, like helping you have good self-esteem, feel happy and loved and grow up to be the best you can be.
If the court needs to decide something that affects you, you will have a lawyer to talk for you. Your lawyer should explain everything that is happening and ask you what you want. Your lawyer is there for you, and it’s their job to make sure the court understands what you think and make decisions that are best for you.
The new law also gives you the right to talk directly with the judge or magistrate so that you can tell them how you feel about where you live or if you have any worries. If you want to speak or write to the judge directly, your lawyer will help you to do this. There may also be times where the judge asks to talk to you about a situation or things related to your family life to help them make a decision which will keep you safe.
If you are living in out-of-home care, you may need some help preparing to live as an independent adult. As part of the new laws, your case worker will be able to support you through this transition. This will include a transition plan that looks at all the steps to achieve long-term success and wellbeing as an adult. This includes helping you to access important documents and services as an adult.
Access to important documents
Your transition plan will help you to access important documents such as:
- your birth certificate
- high-school certificates
- your personal records.
These documents may help you apply for jobs, attend university or TAFE and move into your own place.
Assistance making arrangements and accessing services as an adult
Your transition plan will help you to take make a variety of arrangements including:
- education and training support
- finding somewhere to live
- support finding a job
- setting up a bank account
- access to legal and health services
- counselling and therapeutic support.
If you have a disability or other specific needs, this will be included in your transition plan.