Being investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services

Being investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services

If a report has been made to the Department of Health and Human Services about one of your children, this must be investigated.

The department investigates every report. They may speak to family members (including children), carers and other people involved with the family

Each family’s situation is different. The department may decide not to take action or may get involved with a family for a short or long time.

Being contacted about your child

If you are contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services, you have the right to ask:

  • Why are they making contact?
  • How they intend investigating the report?
  • Who from your family do they want to speak with? If they wish to speak with your child, you may ask where they are intending to speak with them. If they are intending to meet your child at school, will you be given an opportunity to explain this to your child before a meeting is scheduled?
  • What are the options they are considering?
  • When will they tell you the outcome of their investigations? You should be told of any decisions that are made.

You have the right to get legal advice, even at an early stage. You can also get other help, such as from support services, as well as family and friends.

The department workers are meant to work with you and your family to sort things out and to make sure your child is safe.

The department has information about what can happen when child protection workers visit.

What the department may do

The department workers will ask you to co-operate with them. This can include signing a voluntary agreement. This agreement may ask you to:

  • work with the department workers
  • do drug and alcohol urine testing, if they believe this is needed
  • move out of the family home (or ask another family member to)
  • agree to your child being put in an out-of-home placement (child care agreement).

Agreements with the department can have a legal effect, so you should get legal advice before you say yes.

If the Department of Health and Human Services believes that your child is unsafe, they can make a protection application to the Children’s Court. A magistrate of the Children’s Court will then be asked to make a decision about your child.

Find out more about going to the Children’s Court.

When to get urgent help

Get urgent legal help if:

  • you or family members are being told to leave your home
  • the department says your children will be removed
  • you are unhappy with other action the Department of Health and Human Services is taking.