Duty lawyers in the Family Division of the Children's Court (child protection matters)

Duty lawyers in the Family Division of the Children's Court (child protection matters)

We provide duty lawyer services in the family division of the children's court to parents and children (child protection matters). 

Children who are over 10 years of age and assessed by the lawyer as mature enough to give instructions to their lawyer are directly represented by the lawyer.  For other children, a duty lawyer service may also be provided to represent the child on a 'best interests' basis if the court decides this is necessary and Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) agrees it is appropriate. 

Duty lawyers may be VLA staff, Aboriginal legal service lawyers, private or community lawyers we fund.

The role of duty lawyers in the Family Division of the Children's Court 

Duty lawyer services help people attending the family division of the children’s court on the first court date for matters listed as a mention.  

The help provided may include information, advice and representation in court .

The duty lawyer service is not usually available for matters listed as a conciliation conference, directions hearing or contested hearing.  However, a duty lawyer service may be available to people in custody who are not legally represented and are appearing via video conferencing.  The help provided for people in custody may include information, advice and court representation on a limited basis. Court representation does not include examination of witnesses.  

No income test applies to child protection duty lawyer services and no proof of income is required. 

How we manage the schemes

To be eligible to be a child protection duty lawyer, private practitioners must be a s29a child protection panel practitioner. Agents are not permitted to be a duty lawyer on behalf of a private practitioner unless the agent is a s29a panel practitioner.

Private practitioners and VLA staff lawyers are rostered to provide child protection duty lawyer services in some courts.  At other courts, VLA allocates duty lawyers as needed.

We expect duty lawyers to meet the standards of services outlined in the practice standards.

Payments and records management for Children’s Court Family Division private practitioner duty lawyers

Read about payments and records management for Children’s Court Family Division private practitioner duty lawyers.

Practice resources for lawyers

View practice resources for Child protection in the Family Division of the Children’s Court.