Registering a child’s birth - procedure

Follow this procedure when registering a child’s birth.

Document ID number 1120, version 1, 10 February 2017.

Introduction

It is important all children have their births registered. Birth registration ensures a child is legally recognised by the state or territory in which they were born. It creates a permanent, public record of a child’s birth and is part of a child’s story and identity. It is also required before a birth certificate can be issued and to access entitlements such as government payments, obtaining a drivers licence and opening a bank account.

Following a child’s birth, the hospital, medical facility or midwife gives the child’s parent(s) a Birth Registration Statement (BRS) to register their child's birth. Under section 18(1) of the Births, Deaths and Marriage Registration Act 1996 a child’s parent(s) must ensure that a BRS is lodged with the Registrar within 60 days after the date of birth.

Birth registration rates in Victoria are very high. However, for various reasons some children’s births do not get registered.

Child protection may become aware a child’s birth is not registered in the following circumstances:

  • when applying for a birth certificate on behalf of a child, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria (the Registry), or the Registry in the state the child was born, advises they are unable to locate a record of the child’s birth.
  • when a birth parent advises their child’s birth has not been registered. This may occur in a range of circumstances including when the child is placed in out of home care.

Child protection is able to complete a BRS for a child irrespective of the phase of child protection involvement or whether a protection order is in place.

Under section 15(3) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act the Registrar may accept a BRS from a person who is not responsible for having the child’s birth registered if satisfied that:

  1. the person lodging the statement has knowledge of the relevant facts; and
  2. the child’s parents are unable or unlikely to lodge a birth registration statement.

If you believe a child’s birth is registered, however the child does not have a birth certificate please see Applying for a birth certificate – procedure.  

For further information please see Birth certificates - advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

This procedure is relevant to all children involved with child protection. The steps required differ according to who has parental responsibility for the child concerned.  

Where the parent retains parental responsibility

It is the parents’ responsibility to register the child’s birth.

  • Commence early conversations, at the time of an investigation, with a child’s birth parents about the importance of birth registration and birth certificates. See Applying for a birth certificate – procedure for further information about starting these conversations.  
  • Support the parents to complete and submit the BRS, where it is identified a child’s birth has not been registered. Wherever possible, both parents are required to sign the BRS.  
  • If only one parent agrees, or is able, to complete and sign the BRS a statutory declaration must be attached to the BRS explaining why the other parent has not signed.
  • If a family is working with another service provider, such as family services, you may wish to ask the service provider to support the parent to complete the BRS.
  • Contact the Registry via telephone or email if you are unsure if a child’s birth has been registered. Provide the Registry with the child’s name and date of birth and the child’s parents names and ask for confirmation that the child’s birth has been registered. Where the Registry confirms the child’s birth is not registered you will be sent a BRS to complete.  
  • Request and complete the BRS on the parent’s behalf, if a parent is unable or unwilling to register the child’s birth. See Obtaining and completing the BRS below. This should only occur when efforts to engage the parents in the process have been exhausted.

Where there are safety concerns for a parent

  • The BRS contains personal information about both parents, including their residential address. In some circumstances, particularly where family violence is present, it may not be safe for one parent’s address to be known to the other. If this is the case, or if there is any other concern about a parent misusing the information provided on a BRS, contact the Registry for advice about how both parents can safety record their information. It is possible for the Registry to redact certain information where there are safety concerns.

Where the Secretary has parental responsibility

If you become aware that a child, for whom the Secretary has parental responsibility, has not had their birth registered you must register the child’s birth as soon as practicable.

Consent of the child’s birth parents should always be pursued irrespective of the phase of child protection involvement, and wherever possible, a birth parent should be supported to complete the BRS. In the event this is not possible, proceed with completing the BRS.

Obtaining and completing the BRS

Upon identifying a child’s birth has not been registered complete the following:

  • Contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria to request a BRS. This will be sent to you via mail.  
  • Complete the BRS including as many fields as possible. Where you do not know any information such as where the child, or a parent, was born ask the parents or other family members for this information. If you cannot obtain it leave the section blank.
  • Ask the parents to sign the declaration at Step 8. If the parents are unable or unwilling to sign the declaration, sign the declaration at Step 8 yourself. Ensure you clearly print your name, position and the address of your area office. Ensure this signature is witnessed.    
  • Complete and attach to the BRS the standard letter template available from forms, ensuring the following is included:
  • a statement advising of your authority as delegate of the Secretary to complete the BRS
  • the name of the protection order, if applicable
  • a statement confirming the parents are unable to complete the BRS.
  • your name, position and address of your area office, including a certified copy of your DHHS identification badge and Driver Licence
  • a certified copy of any available identity documents for the child that can establish a community footprint (e.g. Medicare, Centrelink, school enrolment), noting this will not be possible in all cases particularly when the child is an infant.
  • Attach a certified copy of the child’s protection order to the application, where applicable
  • Complete Part Two of the BRS to ensure a birth certificate is issued at the time the child’s birth is registered. If Part Two is not completed a birth certificate will not be issued and you will need to make an additional, separate application for a birth certificate.  
  • Pay the fee for a birth certificate using a procurement card. An administration assistant can assist with this process.    
  • Post the completed BRS and attached documents to the Registry using the self-addressed envelope provided.
Children born interstate or overseas

For children born elsewhere in Australia, contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the relevant state or territory to ask about the birth registration process. A list of state and territory registries is available at the Australian Government information and services website.

If the child was born overseas, it may be difficult to register the child’s birth in their country of origin. Refer to Applying for a birth certificate – procedure for information about how you may ensure a child has appropriate identity documents to demonstrate their entitlements in lieu of a birth certificate.

Supervisor/Team manager tasks

Support the child protection practitioner to:

  • obtain and complete the BRS and return it to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria as soon as possible after identifying the child’s birth is not registered.  
  • obtain the parent’s consent and assist the parent to complete the form, wherever possible.
  • order a birth certificate for the child in the course of completing the BRS.   
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