Applying for a birth certificate - procedure

Follow this procedure when determining if a child has a birth certificate, supporting a parent to obtain a birth certificate for their child, or applying for a birth certificate on behalf of a child in out-of-home care.

See Birth certificates - advice for further information.

Introduction

This procedure is relevant to all children in relation to whom child protection has substantiated protective concerns. However, practitioners working at the investigation phase, where a substantiation decision has not yet been made, may discuss the importance of birth certificates with parents.  

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

Protective Intervention

  • Confirm if a child has a birth certificate by asking the child’s parents. This may occur during case planning discussions or a routine home visit. Where possible, ask to sight the child’s birth certificate.
  • Record on CRIS the parents’ response and whether the birth certificate was sighted.      
  • If the parents’ advise the child does not have a birth certificate, ask the parent if the child’s birth was registered.
  • If a parent advises their child’s birth was not registered, or if they are unsure if this occurred, follow the steps below under the heading - ‘Children whose births have not been registered.’ 
  • If the parents’ confirm the child’s birth was registered but they do not have a certificate, explain that birth certificates are important identity documents and, if needed, support the parents to make an application for a certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria. Applications can be made online, in person, or via mail, and carry a small cost.  

Protection Order

The steps required differ according to who has parental responsibility for the child concerned.   

Family preservation order

  • It is the parents’ responsibility to obtain a birth certificate.
  • Check the child’s CRIS record to determine if a child’s birth certificate has been sighted. If a certificate has been sighted no further action is required.
  • If the case note indicates the certificate was not sighted or the parent with primary care of the child does not have a birth certificate, encourage and support the parent to apply for a birth certificate as soon as possible.
  • Where other services are involved, such as family services, consider discussing which service will take responsibility for supporting the parent to apply for a birth certificate.

Family reunification order

  • Parents should be encouraged to obtain a birth certificate on behalf of their child if they have not already done so. This is part of supporting parents to resume care of their child when there are no longer any safety concerns.  
  • Follow the same steps as required for a child on a family preservation order, listed above.
  • In some cases it may be necessary for child protection to apply for a birth certificate on behalf of a child on a family reunification order, for example if identity documents are required for a child to obtain a passport or Learners Permit but the child’s parents will not initiate an application. In this instance follow the steps below under the heading - Making an application.      

Care by Secretary and long-term care orders

Child protection is to store on file an original copy of a birth certificate for each child for whom the Secretary has sole parental responsibility. This includes all children on care by Secretary or long-term care orders. Where a child was born in Victoria this will involve making an application for a birth certificate to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria.

Making an application

  • Check the child’s name and date of birth and the mother’s name and date of birth are recorded correctly on CRIS. This information will be required for the application. 
  • Make an application for a birth certificate to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria using its online service.
  • As part of the application you will be asked to select your relationship to the child. From the drop down menu select ‘authorised third party.’
  • Attach a copy of the child’s court order to the application to indicate the Secretary’s parental responsibility for a child.
  • Attach a letter to the application explaining the court order and the role of the Secretary. A standard template is available in the form section of the manual.
  • Pay the application fee using a procurement card. An administration assistant can assist with this process.    

Storing a child’s birth certificate

A child’s birth certificate belongs to the child and, where appropriate, should follow them. The following steps should be taken to safely store the child’s birth certificate:

  • Keep an original of the child’s birth certificate on their child protection paper file while the Secretary maintains sole parental responsibility for the child.
  • Attach a copy of the birth certificate to CRIS as part of a case note.

Storing a child’s birth certificate following case closure

  • If a birth certificate is obtained on behalf of a child and the child returns to the care of a parent, the child’s birth certificate should be provided to their parent.  
  • Where a child is placed on a permanent care order, provide the original birth certificate to the child’s permanent care parents.
  • If a child for whom the Secretary has parental responsibility transitions to independent living upon leaving out-of-home care, the original birth certificate should be given to the young person.

Providing birth certificates to carers

In some cases, where a carer is authorised to make certain decisions on behalf of a child on a care by Secretary order or long term care order, such as enrolling a child at school, a decision may be made to provide a carer with a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate.

A certified copy is a copy (often a photocopy) of a birth certificate, or other primary document, that is endorsed by an authorised officer or office holder as a true copy of the primary document.

A list of authorised occupations and office holders able to certify documents is contained in Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993 – Schedule 2. Amongst the persons authorised to perform this task are people who have been employed by the Department of Health and Human Services, or any other state or Commonwealth department, continuously for a period of five years, police members and some teachers.

The decision to provide a carer with a certified copy of a birth certificate should be made on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with your supervisor. The carer, apart from a permanent carer, should not be provided with an original certificate. If a carer who has been provided with a copy of the child’s birth certificate ceases to care for the child, child protection should arrange for the carer to return the birth certificate.

Children born interstate or overseas

  • Make an application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the relevant state or territory. A list of state and territory registries is available at the Australian Government information and services website.
  • If a child was born overseas a birth certificate will not be able to be issued in Australia and may be difficult to obtain. In this instance take the following steps:
    • Ensure the child has relevant identity documents that can be used in place of a birth certificate for things such as enrolling a child at school. Identity documents can include a passport or citizenship certificate.
    • Speak to a child’s parents about obtaining certified copies of proof of identity documents.
    • Document on CRIS why a birth certificate was not able to be obtained.

Children whose births have not been registered

In a small number of cases, making an application for a birth certificate may lead to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages finding a child’s birth has not been registered in Victoria. If this occurs take the following steps:

  • Ask the child’s parents if they registered the child’s birth.
  • Speak to the child’s parents or other family members to determine if the child was born interstate or overseas.
  • Check the child’s name or date of birth and the child’s mother’s name and date of birth has been recorded correctly in CRIS.  

If it is identified the child’s birth has not been registered it is important this occurs as soon as possible. In Victoria and other Australian states and territories, this can be done retrospectively. For advice about how to register a child’s birth, contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state or territory in which the child was born. Upon registering a child’s birth you will also be able to apply for a birth certificate.   

If the child was born overseas, registering their birth in their country of origin may be difficult. If required, the relevant foreign consulate in Australia will be able to provide you or the child’s parents with advice.

Supervisor/Team manager tasks

Support the child protection practitioner to:

  • confirm the birth of each child, for whom protective concerns have been substantiated, is registered. 
  • ensure an original birth certificate is obtained for a child for whom the Secretary has sole parental responsibility and is held on the child’s file.  
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