Communities and Justice

What happens to a child who is at immediate risk of serious harm?

Removal to a safe place

Communities and Justice (DCJ) is responsible for helping to make sure that children and young people are safe and being looked after. Under the law, DCJ are able to remove children from their parents with an order of the Children's Court . In circumstances where children are considered to be at immediate risk of serious harm, DCJ or NSW Police also have the ability to remove children without a warrant.

This is a serious action and a decision not taken lightly by DCJ.

DCJ may have to move the child or young person to a safe place. The safe place might be with a relative, trusted friend or foster carer, depending on the situation.

Read more information in removing children and young people from their parents' care.

What happens next?

Children's Court

If a child or young person is removed, DCJ needs to go to Children’s Court within 3 working days.

A caseworker makes an application to the Children’s Court about why they believe your child was not safe with you, and explains what they intend to do. The Court makes the final decision if the child or young person is in need of care and protection.

You will be given a copy of this application, which will tell you what court you need to attend, the date, the time and the DCJ caseworker to talk to for more information.

We won't remove a child from home unless it can be proven to the Court that this is necessary for the child’s wellbeing, or unless we have your consent as the parent. In all cases, our primary concern is to act in your child’s best interests.

The Court decision

If the Court decides that your child should be cared for by someone else for a time, the Court will say whether the Minister for DCJ or another person should be the "carer".

In this case, your child will be taken to a safe place – a relative, a friend, a foster carer, residential care or independent living arrangements. They won’t be able to return to your care without the consent of DCJ or the Children’s Court.

The right to appeal

You have the right to appeal the decision of the Children’s Court and, wherever possible, the right to maintain contact with your child.

You will be told where your child is — unless DCJ believes this information would harm the safety, welfare and wellbeing of your child, or the carer and their family.

Where appropriate, your caseworker will arrange for you to see your child regularly while they're not living with you.

You will be given some information about where your child is, although you may not be told their exact location. See your rights as a birth parent.

You can read more information about:

As your child’s parent, you play a critical role in their experience of living away from home. Research shows that children who maintain regular contact with their families do better in foster care than those who lose ties with their families or other significant people in their lives.

Last updated:

28 May 2024