Support for new readiness hearings in child protection matters

Support for new readiness hearings in child protection matters

Thursday, 21 May 2020

We are supporting practitioners to appear at new readiness hearings in child protection matters in the Children’s Court of Victoria.

The court is introducing the hearings in June, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The readiness hearings will help identify and settle matters which do not need to go to a contested hearing and to prepare for contested hearings that need to proceed to be held through audio visual links or other processes.

The court has also introduced new directions allowing for matters currently adjourned at interim stages to be listed for shorter “reserved submissions” hearings.

This will give young people and families an earlier opportunity to be heard by the court.

These new processes only apply to metropolitan Children's Court matters and regional matters being managed by Melbourne at this time. 

‘During the pandemic we have been pleased to be able to support the court’s work to continue to hear new urgent applications, but we’re equally pleased to see it will now have the capacity to deal with some existing matters.'

 Nicole Rich, Executive Director, Family, Youth and Children’s Law

‘It is vitally important that families with child protection involvement have the opportunity to resolve their protection applications in a timely way and in the best interests of their children.’

Interim fees for readiness hearings

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) will introduce new interim fees for practitioners to prepare for and appear at the readiness hearings.

An appearance fee of $355 will be available.

Matters which reach a final settlement at the readiness hearing will also be eligible for the current settlement preparation fee of $422.

‘The court’s new Practice Direction sets out that the new readiness hearings will combine features of current directions hearings with judicially led dispute resolution so at this time we believe these fees appropriately reflect the work that will be involved in preparing for and appearing at the readiness hearings,’ said Nicole.

‘We will monitor the introduction of the new hearings and the use of these interim fees closely and may need to make changes in future. We welcome feedback from practitioners about their experiences of readiness hearings as they begin to be held.’

How to apply

Practitioners appearing at a readiness hearing should claim the appearance and, if applicable, the settlement fee via an extension under their broadband grant for a non-standard disbursement.

VLA will amend the notes to the Guidelines in the VLA Handbook to reflect this process.

More information

If you have any questions about the interim fees for readiness hearings please contact assignmentsfamily@vla.vic.gov.au

Read more about the Children’s Court of Victoria Practice Directions on the court’s website.

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