Secure welfare services transport - advice

This advice provides additional information about the Secure Welfare Transport Service (transport service) for transporting young people between the Melbourne Children’s Court and a secure welfare service.

Document ID number 2217, version 3, 2 July 2018.

Introduction

See procedure Transport between court and a secure welfare service for tasks that must be undertaken.

The purpose of the secure welfare transport service is to assist child protection practitioners safely transport and supervise young people between the Melbourne Children’s Court and a secure welfare service.

Where resources are available the service may also provide assistance to metropolitan areas transferring young people on a family reunification order, a care by Secretary order, or a long-term care order to a secure welfare service.

This service only operates in metropolitan areas between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday. Access to the service is by referral and direct liaison with the secure welfare service.

Structure and target group

The service comprises two transport service staff and a vehicle fitted with a screen that separates the driver from the back seat passengers. The vehicle can transport up to four young people at a time. An assessment will be made at the time as to how many young people can be safely transported.

Priority will be given to assisting with the supervision and safe transport of young people to be placed in a secure welfare service  via a court order or who are returning to court from a secure welfare service.

Assessing the need for assistance from the transport service

In many situations, it will be assessed that transport service assistance is required to ensure the safety and appropriate containment of the young person because the young person may attempt to harm themselves or others or to escape from secure care. When this is the case, the child protection practitioner should contact the secure welfare service unit manager or team leader with as much notice as possible.

In some instances where a child protection practitioner is recommending a secure welfare service placement to the Court, the practitioner may assess that they are able to safely transport the young person to court without the assistance of the transport service. In these instances, areas should continue to make their own arrangements for transport and supervision.

The roles of the transport service staff and child protection practitioners

See procedure Transport between court and a secure welfare service for tasks that must be undertaken.

Use of the secure welfare room at court

The Melbourne Children’s Court has a secure welfare room to contain young people who have been transported to court from a secure welfare service. It is appropriate to use the room when there is a concern that the young person may abscond from court. The secure welfare room door can be locked on the inside or the outside. The door will open automatically in the event of a fire. Security staff monitor the room via a video camera. The child protection practitioner and transport service staff member are responsible for supervising the young person in the court and are not to leave a young person alone in the secure welfare room. See procedure Transport between court and a secure welfare service for tasks that must be undertaken.

Prioritising the hearing

CPLO, the Children’s Court and Victorian Legal Aid (VLA) have all agreed to prioritise Children’s Court hearings relating to young people who are being contained. CPLO should be advised by the child protection practitioner as early as possible of all matters to come before the Children’s Court involving children who are being contained. CPLO will take responsibility for negotiating with VLA and the Court to ensure the prioritisation of mentions and contests involving young people being contained.

Police assistance

Police assistance should be requested where there is an unacceptable risk to the young person (in terms of the young person absconding or attempting to abscond and the possibility of harm to the young person should this occur) or worker safety issues (in terms of the threat of physical violence or verbal violence). The protocol between the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police recognises that it is imperative that reasonable notice be provided to the police. See Police protocol.

The police will assess the request and advise on their capacity to respond and the timing of any such response. Initial contact should be made with the Sexual Offences Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT), Victoria Police. If SOCIT is not available then contact should be made with one of the division’s local police stations.

Section 530(7), CYFA, provides for:

‘A child being removed from a remand centre or secure welfare service to be brought before the court or to another place in compliance with an order under sub-section (4) is, during the time of removal, deemed to be in the legal custody of the member of the police force, protective services officer (this is not a reference to a child protection practitioner), or other officer having the custody of the child’.

In such cases, the child protection practitioner must accompany police whilst the young person is being transported.

Transport for administrative admissions

Section 173(2)(b), CYFA, provides for the Secretary to place a child on a family reunification order, care by Secretary order, or a long-term care order in a secure welfare service for up to 21 days. This administrative decision is made by the area operations managers/assistant director, child protection or above.

Administrative admissions can only be made when:

  • s. 173(2)(b) ‘…there is a substantial and immediate risk of harm to the child’ noting
  • s. 174(1)(c) provides that ‘… lack of adequate accommodation is not by itself a sufficient reason for placing the child in a secure welfare service’.

The transport service may be available to assist divisional staff to transport young people on administrative admissions from metropolitan areas to a secure welfare service where the transport service has capacity and is not required to assist with the safe transport and supervision of young people in connection with Court. Requests for assistance with transport from rural areas to a secure welfare service should be made to the manager, young women’s secure welfare service. A plan for safely managing the transport should be agreed between the child protection practitioner, the secure welfare service team leader and transport service beforehand.

The division with case responsibility will be required to have at least one child protection practitioner accompanying the young person and the transport service worker to secure welfare and to provide for the return of the child protection practitioner from a secure welfare service to their office.

Dispute resolution

If there is any disagreement regarding the use of the transport service, the child protection practitioner and the transport service worker should attempt to resolve the disagreement. If the matter remains unresolved, the child protection team manager should attempt to resolve the issue with the secure welfare service team leader or unit manager. In cases of significant disagreement, the child protection team manager and the secure welfare service manager should discuss and resolve the issue.

Considerations for good practice

  • Plan in advance and seek assistance as soon as it is known that assistance is required.
  • Practitioners should always consider the safety implications of transporting clients to and from a secure welfare service and always seek assistance when necessary.

Additional information

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