Directions hearing

Follow this procedure when preparing for and participating in a Children’s Court directions hearing.

Introduction

A directions hearing is held approximately two weeks before a contested hearing and deals primarily with the administrative issues of the contested hearing.  The full list of witnesses the Department of Health and Human Services intends to call to give evidence must be confirmed at the directions hearing.

For additional information see Directions hearings - advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Seek advice from the CPLO or a divisional solicitor before the directions hearing.
  • In metropolitan areas, two to three weeks before the hearing, the CPLO will email you the directions hearing notice proforma. In rural areas, discuss local arrangements with your divisional legal officer.
  • One week before the hearing, fax the CPLO or your divisional legal officer the completed directions hearing notice.
  • Prepare an addendum court report and chronology for the directions hearing.
  • Consult with supervisor, solicitor or divisional legal officer about what should be included in the report and seek comments from the child or young person and the parents. This is important if the circumstances have changed and if you are seeking a different disposition to that recommended in the original report. 
  • Contact all potential witnesses before the directions hearing to confirm their availability for the contest dates and advise your solicitor or divisional legal officer immediately if witnesses are not available.
    • Discuss with your legal representative the need for the Children's Court clinician to attend as a witness.
    • At the directions hearing a s. 41 order by which the Court requests and arranges the attendance of the clinician to give evidence will be sought.
  • Issue and serve any witness summons before the directions hearing.
  • Obtain all relevant reports from witnesses.
  • Three days before the directions hearing:
    • lodge the addendum report and chronology with the Court.
    • fax copy of the court report to the CPLO (metropolitan areas) or divisional legal officer (rural areas)
    • provide copy of the court report and chronology to child or young person’s and the parents’ solicitor
    • provide copy of the court report to child or young person and their parents
    • arrange a Legal Aid appointment for the child or young person aged 10 years or older who is subject to the application, so the child can give instructions to their lawyer to avoid the need to attend court to give instructions, unless this is unavoidable or the child wants to attend court.
  • Contact court or police to arrange security if there are worker safety issues.
  • Arrive at court by 9.15 am on the day of the directions hearing and seek legal advice from CPLO or divisional legal officer.
  • Consult with supervisor if you become aware of a possible cost application.
  • Complete CRIS requirements including court screens and record of activity, decisions and rationales.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.

Team manager tasks

  • Provide consultation and endorsement of changes to the original disposition.
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