Seeking feedback on draft Guide for Children’s Lawyers in Child Protection

Seeking feedback on draft Guide for Children’s Lawyers in Child Protection

Thursday, 28 February 2019

We are seeking feedback on a draft guide to assist lawyers representing children in child protection proceedings.

Quality legal representation to help children understand and participate in child protection proceedings – whether as a direct representative or best interests representative – requires lawyers to have particular skills and knowledge.

The consultations for our Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review identified a need for clearly documented expectations of the role and duties of children’s lawyers. Action 4 of the Final Report committed Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) to developing guidance to meet this need.

The draft guide was prepared with support from a reference group comprising VLA and external child protection lawyers, and representatives from the Children’s Court, Department of Health and Human Services and Aboriginal agencies.

The comprehensive guide draws on the insights and experience of child protection lawyers, young people with experience of the child protection system, the judiciary and the Commission for Children and Young People. It also draws on existing guidance from other jurisdictions, such as the guide for Independent Children’s Lawyers in Family Law.

Until close of business Thursday 14 March 2019, we are seeking general feedback on the draft Guide for Children’s Lawyers in Child Protection.

Download the Draft guide for children's lawyers in child protection – for consultation (docx, 91.76 KB)

We welcome feedback from any person or organisation with an interest in the provision of legal services to children in the child protection system. The following questions can be used to guide your feedback.

Question 1

Do the descriptions of the direct representative and best interests representative roles, in the ‘Overview’ section and throughout the document, capture these roles well? Is there anything missing, or misrepresented, in relation to what they involve?

Question 2

We have included a ‘Child participation principles’ section to emphasise this crucial part of the role for both direct and best interests representatives. What are your thoughts on these principles?

Question 3

In the section ‘Information gathering and analysis’, are there any actions or sources of information that we’ve missed?

Question 4

In the section ‘Children’s needs’, are there other specific issues or needs that should be addressed here (in addition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with a disability, education needs, cultural and religious diversity and LGBTIQ+ children)?

Question 5

Do the sections flow in the right order or should they be rearranged and if so, how?

Question 6

Are there any other elements of the guide that need to be further enhanced or amended, and if so how?

Next steps

We will consider all the feedback received and make any final changes to the guide required. The final guide is planned for release in late March, to coincide with implementation of the new Child Protection Duty Lawyer Guidelines.

How to provide feedback

Feedback can be provided to Project Coordinator Jackie Anders on jackie.anders@vla.vic.gov.au or (03) 9269 0435.

 

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