Conciliation conference addendum report guide

This advice provides guidelines to assist child protection practitioners to prepare an addendum report for a conciliation conference (CC).

Introduction

The CC addendum report is due at the Children’s Court at least 10 days prior to the CC but no sooner than 14 days prior. Compliance is important as it forms part of the Children’s Court order. Not complying with the court order can result in the cancellation of the CC or costs being awarded against the department, or both.

Completing the report

Why is the department concerned about the children in this application?

This section requires practitioners to list the protective concerns. It does not require a detailed account of the factual background. The protective concerns inform the sorts of conditions being sought, so it is important that they align.

Note the following examples:

  • The department is concerned about the following:
  1. chronic environmental neglect
  2. poor hygiene (school reports serious hygiene concerns)
  3. inadequate diet (children reported to be hungry at school, insufficient lunches)
  4. mother’s mental health issues (mother diagnosed with bi-polar, not currently engaged with a GP/psychiatrist).
     
  5. The department is concerned about the following:
  1. family violence between mother and step-father (3 police call-outs in 3 months)
  2. children being exposed or present when violence occurs (children disclose feeling frightened)
  3. step-father’s refusal to engage with the department or attend family violence counselling
  4. mother’s history of reunifying with step-father.
     
  5. The department is concerned about the following:
  1. mother and father intellectually disabled, first time parents (hospital concerned that parenting techniques needed to be explained and re-enforced repeatedly to both parents)
  2. ability to parent without professional intervention or family support
  3. historical family violence between mother and father (hospital observed that father had poor impulse control and became easily frustrated with mother).

What is already happening to keep the children safe and well looked after?

This section requires practitioners to focus on the strengths within the family and also to indicate whether parties have complied with pre-existing court ordered conditions or previous arrangements.

In terms of strengths – examples would be:

  • a strong family network of support
  • an ability to express insight into the protective concerns
  • a willingness to co-operate and engage with the department or
  • a demonstrated engagement with conditions, or previous arrangements.

Lawyers acting for parties will be particularly interested in contact (attendance and presentation) and compliance with the current conditions designed to address the protective concerns. For example: if a father presents as substance affected when collecting his children from day-care, he will inevitably need to complete screens to demonstrate that he is drug-free. Lawyers for parties will need to know how many screens the department has requested, how many the client has completed and the results.

What else needs to happen to keep the children safe and well looked after?

This section requires practitioners to respond according to the circumstances of the particular application and case plan.

Examples:

  •  A child is in OOHC – either on an IAO to an out-of-home care placement  or a family reunification order. Family reunification remains the permanency objective in the case plan. The types of issues practitioners will need to address in this instance are:
    • Where will the child live?
    •  If the child is not with a parent, how will contact occur? How often? Will it be supervised? Who will supervise?
    • What needs to happen before contact can improve (that is increase in frequency, move to monitored/unsupervised/overnights)?
    • What needs to happen before the child can return home?
  • A child is the subject of a care by Secretary order and either long-term out of home care or permanent care is the permanency objective in the case plan. The sorts of issues practitioners need to address in this instance are:
    • Where will the child live?
    • How will contact occur? How often? Will it be supervised? Who will supervise?
    • What needs to happen before contact can improve (that is, increasing frequency of contact anticipated, move to monitored/unsupervised/overnights)?
    • What is the long-term plan for this child, in terms of their relationship with their biological family?
  • A child is with their parent, either on an IAO or a family preservation order. The sorts of issues practitioners need to address in this instance are:
    • What do the parents need to do before the department will withdraw from their involvement with the family?
    • Alternatively, you may have a family that want the department to help and are not looking towards a withdrawal. In those circumstances, you will need to focus on ways for this family to address the protective concerns. 
    • Be specific about recommendations: if you require a parent to access a service, indicate the precise service. If you require a parent to remain drug free, indicate how they could be supported and if requiring screens, indicate how frequently and for how long before your requests revert to ‘random’ or ‘additional screens only if the department receives new reports that the parent has presented as substance affected with the child’.
  • A child is the subject of a family reunification order and the department is seeking a care by Secretary order or a long-term care order. The sorts of issues practitioners need to address in this instance are as follows:
    • Where will the child live?
    • If contact is envisioned, how will the child’s relationship with their family be maintained?
    • What is the long-term plan for this child, in terms of their relationship with their biological family?

A child is the subject of a care by Secretary order or a long-term care order and the department is seeking a permanent care order. The sorts of issues practitioners need to address in this instance are as follows:

  • With whom will the child be permanently placed?
  • Is there an established relationship between the biological parents and the permanent carer?
  • How will contact work without the department being involved?
  • How capable is the proposed carer of fulfilling the standard conditions of the permanent care order?

CC addendum report – PART B

This section should only be completed where:

  • there are new facts and or circumstances since the last court hearing; and/or
  • there has been a change in the recommendation for disposition or conditions; and/or
  • the disposition has changed during the CC as s. 276, CYFA states the Court cannot make a protection order unless it has received and considered a disposition report.

List the reasons for changed disposition and conditions

This section should include a brief account of new facts or circumstances and analysis of these new facts or circumstances that has led to the change to disposition from the original disposition report. Provide a new version of the case plan if this has changed.

You may also include the decision to reject alternative dispositions in this section.

For example: A family preservation order was not considered appropriate as the child needs to remain in an out-of-home care placement due to the parent’s history of significant mental health issues and lack of compliance to appropriate treatment.

What is the new disposition and conditions?

Clearly detail the precise disposition and conditions that are being sought. This is to ensure the magistrate is able to immediately establish what the department is seeking in this matter.

Include:

It is recommended that the (TYPE OF APPLICATION) be found proved.

It is recommended that (child/ren’s name/s) be placed on (TYPE OF ORDER) for a period of (NUMBER OF MONTHS), with the following conditions:

1. Condition

2. Condition

3. Condition

1