In the ACT, the main decision-makers about the best interests of children under the Children and Young People Act 2008 are the Director-General (of Community Services) and the ACT Childrens Court.
When the Court deems a child to be ‘in need of care and protection’, it may make a Care and Protection Order and may transfer parental responsibility for a child to the Director-General under the Act. The Director-General may then delegate functions, including parental responsibility to CYPS, ACT Together, or to kinship or foster carers.
Applications can be made to the Childrens Court once every 12 months by interested parties to extend, amend or revoke a Care and Protection Order, or more often if there has been a significant change in any relevant circumstances since the order was made or last extended or amended. Applications can be made by any party involved with the original proceedings for a Care and Protection Order. Other interested parties may also become involved such as carers who, for example, are not in agreement with a decision made by (or on behalf of) the Director-General. However, the Childrens Court does not, review decisions made pursuant to Care and Protection Orders, rather the Court makes a new decision based on the evidence before it.
Under the Act, those parties to proceedings for a Care and Protection Order may also appeal to the ACT Supreme Court regarding certain decisions made by the Childrens Court – however, an appeal can only be brought before the Supreme Court against a decision of the Childrens Court.
The role of a court is to be a decision-maker, not to review previous court decisions or those made by the Director-General.
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