Interim accommodation order contested hearings

Interim accommodation order contested hearings

Proposal

This proposal provided an additional ground for funding a parent for an interim accommodation order contested hearing, where the parent is seeking a condition for time with the child and that parent has reasonable prospects of the child being returned to them within the term of the order.

Stakeholder feedback

This proposal was largely supported by stakeholders.

There was some concern that this change may promote an increase in court activity at the interim stage.

We acknowledge this concern but are of the view that, with time in out-of-home care starting to accumulate once an interim accommodation order is made and the legislative amendments placing strict timeframes on the availability of orders for reunification, create a need to assist families to ensure the best prospects of reunification are facilitated at the earliest stages of the court process.

Some stakeholders were concerned that the guideline, as proposed in the consultation paper, would be of too limited benefit if the parent must demonstrate that reunification is likely to occur at the conclusion of the interim accommodation order (which may be a very short period – short periods between interim accommodation order court mention dates and extensions are common) as opposed to within the available timeframes under the new legislative provisions.

We agree that this would be inconsistent with the intent of the proposal, which is to align legal assistance with the social science research, which shows that contact and maintaining the bond between parent and child in circumstances that do not compromise a child’s safety is essential to successful reunification.

Action – additional scenario added to the interim accommodation order contested hearing guideline

We have introduced an additional scenario in which a grant of legal assistance is available for an interim accommodation order contested hearing, albeit amended so that it is available where there are reasonable prospects of reunification within the legislated timeframe available for the court to make a reunification order (not merely within the life of the order).

See the new state family guideline.

More information

Read about the other proposals: