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CASE EXAMPLE Family Members. Subject child: Thomas UHLE (6years) Normally resides with Mother Currently placed with maternal grandparents Half-sibling: Anna BRASANO (9 years) Resides with maternal grandparents Mother: Maria BRASANO (28 years)

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CASE EXAMPLEFamily Members

Subject child: Thomas UHLE (6years)

Normally resides with Mother

Currently placed with maternal grandparents

Half-sibling: Anna BRASANO (9 years)

Resides with maternal grandparents

Mother: Maria BRASANO (28 years)

Father of Thomas: Wayne UHLE (26 years)

Father of Anna: Unknown

Maternal Grandparents:

Victorio and Franca BRASANO

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• Thomas Uhle is aged 6 years and normally resides with his mother, Maria Brasano.

• His father is Wayne Uhle.

• Thomas’ parents never married and only cohabited for a period of six months.

• They separated prior to Thomas’ birth and Wayne has not seen Thomas since he was two years of age.

• Maria has an older child – Anna, aged 9 years – who has resided with Maria’s parents, Victorio and Franca Brasano, since infancy.

• Anna’s father is unknown.

• Mr and Mrs Brasano have residency of Anna through the Family Court.

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History - continued

• Maria has schizophrenia and has had periods of hospitalisation since her late teens – she is now 28 years of age.

• Maria is inconsistent in her use of medication and when unwell, her behaviour can present significant risks to Thomas’ physical and emotional wellbeing.

• For example, on three occasions in the past 18 months, Maria has abandoned her rented premises and all her possessions and has been found by Police wandering the streets with Thomas because she believes that there are people living in the walls and ceiling of her residence.

• On the last occasion, Maria was sexually and physically assaulted by unknown assailants in a public park late at night.

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History - continued

• Thomas was witness to the assault and was found in an extremely distressed state by Police.

• He was in a dirty and unkempt condition and told Police that he had not eaten for two days.

• Maria was hospitalised and then regulated and Thomas went to live with his grandparents for 3 weeks before Maria was released from hospital.

• Maria then disappeared with Thomas and was located interstate where she was again hospitalised.

• The interstate welfare authorities applied for a temporary protection order which they subsequently withdrew after Maria consented to her parents assuming care of Thomas.

• Mr and Mrs Brasano travelled interstate to collect Thomas and returned with him to Queensland.

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History - continued

• Mr and Mrs Brasano did not hear from their daughter for two months until they were contacted by Thomas’ school and advised that Maria was at the school and wanted to take Thomas home with her.

• Mr and Mrs Brasano contacted the Police who met them at the school.

• However, as Maria appeared well and the Brasanos had no custody or residence order in their favour, Police advised that they could not intervene and Thomas left with Maria.

• Ten days later Thomas telephoned his grandparents and advised that his mother had gone out the previous evening and had not yet returned home. He was calling on a neighbour’s mobile.

• The neighbour provided Mr and Mrs Brasano with Thomas’ location and they went to collect him.

• The following day Mr and Mrs Brasano reported Maria as missing and were advised by Police to contact the Department of Child Safety.

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  • Aim To determine the most appropriate response to concerns received about harm and risk of harm to a child

  • Action Information about a child is recorded and a decision is made about how the department will respond

  • Decision Record a notification if the child protection information meets the legislative threshold of harm or risk of harm and it is reasonably suspected that the child is in need of protection.

    If the threshold is not met, a child concern report will be recorded.

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INTAKE PHASE – continuedDefinitions

  • Harm - any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child's physical, psychological or emotional well-being. Harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse, neglect or sexual abuse or exploitation (it is immaterial how the harm is caused).

  • A child in need of protection - a child who has suffered harm, is suffering harm or is at unacceptable risk of suffering harm and does not have a parent able and willing to protect them from the harm.

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Decision: The Waverley Child Safety Service Centre, Department of Child Safety, recorded a notification of significant harm (neglect) and risk of significant harm (emotional) to Thomas based on the information provided by the grandparents.

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  • Aim To determine whether a child is in need of protection and ongoing departmental intervention

  • Action The child and their family are visited and information is gathered from them and other sources. The child’s immediate safety, harm, and risk of future harm are assessed.

  • Decision A child is/is not in need of protection

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts

  • The Waverley Child Safety Service Centre commenced an assessment with the cooperation of Mr and Mrs Brasano.

  • Three days later Maria arrived at her parents’ home and attempted to remove Thomas.

  • The department attended with Police and attempted to obtain Maria’s consent to leave Thomas with her parents until the assessment was completed.

  • Maria refused and the department applied for and obtained a temporary assessment order pursuant to s25 of the Child Protection Act 1999.

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

  • As it was evident that the department would require longer than three days to complete the assessment, the Waverley Child Safety Service Centre then applied for a Court Assessment order pursuant to s39 of the Child Protection Act 1999.

  • The order was granted for four weeks and the following provisions were made:

    • The chief executive was granted temporary custody of Thomas

    • Maria Brasano was directed not to have contact with Thomas other than when a departmental officer was present. (Decision letter required in relation to contact arrangements- there is no right of review in relation to the condition of contact being supervised, but a right of review remains in relation to the frequency of contact.)

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

  • Thomas was placed with Mr and Mrs Brasano who were approved as provisionally approved carers pending their assessment as kinship carers. (The department must tell parents where a child is placed, subject to s85(4), but there is no right of review when the child is in care under a Court Assessment Order.)

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  • Decision The Waverley Child Safety Service Centre, Department of Child Safety, determined that Thomas was in need of protection.

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  • Aim To reduce the likelihood of a child experiencing future harm.

  • Action A case plan is developed with intervention goals and actions. Sometimes it is necessary to remove a child from home to ensure their safety.

  • Decision A child remains at home

    • Intervention with parental agreement

    • Child protection order


      A child is placed away from home

    • Intervention with parental agreement

    • Child protection order

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts

  • Prior to the expiration of the Court Assessment Order, the department made application for a short term guardianship order to the chief executive (2 years). (Parents, and the child, now have a right of review of an ‘in whose care’ decision.)

  • During the period of the Court Assessment order, Maria again went missing. However the department was successful in locating Wayne Uhle after the application for a child protection order was filed.

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

  • Maria then contacted the department and was served with the application.

  • At the next mention date the following orders are made:

    • An interim order for temporary custody of Thomas to the chief executive – pursuant to s67(1)(a)(ii)

    • An interim order directing Maria Brasano not to have contact with Thomas other than when a departmental officer is present – pursuant to s67(1)(b)(ii)

    • An order for separate representation of Thomas pursuant to s110(1)(a)

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

  • Maria is contesting the application and Wayne is reserving his position. He has re-partnered and has a two year daughter. He wants to re-establish contact with Thomas with a view to assuming his care.

  • Mr and Mrs Brasano believe that Maria will never be well enough to care for Thomas and that Thomas and Anna should have the opportunity to grow up together. They are dismissive of Wayne’s stated interest in caring for Thomas as he previously ‘abandoned’ Thomas and now has a new family.

  • A Family Group Meeting is convened to develop a case plan for Thomas.

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

Time passes……………………………………...

The department is successful in obtaining a short term guardianship order to the chief executive on the basis that:

  • Maria Brasano’s mental health continued to be unstable and expose Thomas to significant risk of physical and emotional harm and neglect.

  • Wayne Uhle formed the view that he could not care for Thomas on a full-time basis and consented to the making of a short-term guardianship order to the chief executive.

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  • Decision Thomas is placed away from home under a child protection order

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  • Aim To ensure that a child experiences continuity of care and transitions successfully to adulthood.

  • Action Reunification is the preferred option for permanency. Where a child cannot be returned home, a stable long-term arrangement is sought.

  • Decision Child and family safely reunified.

    Long-term out of home care


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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts

  • Prior to expiration of the short-term guardianship order, the department applied to revoke the order and make application for a long-term guardianship order to the chief executive in its place.

  • The application was successful.

  • Thomas has continued to reside with his grandparents who were approved as kinship carers.

  • The case plan allows for contact between Thomas and Wayne Uhle every second Saturday and part of the school holidays but Wayne has not been consistent in maintaining this contact schedule.

  • In reality, Thomas has contact with Wayne one day per month and is yet to spend longer than one week in his care during the school holidays.

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

  • Thomas’ contact with Maria Brasano is also erratic depending on her mental health.

  • When Maria is unwell, contact is suspended.

  • Supervised contact is only resumed when a mental health worker is able to advise the department that Maria is well and is maintaining her medication and contact with mental health experts.

  • At such times, contact usually occurs once per week for one hour. (Ms Brasano may or may not have a right of review re: decisions to suspend contact depending on the framing of the contact arrangements in the original decision letter.)

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  • Decision Thomas will stay with his grandparents, who have been approved as kinship carers, in long-term out of home care.

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts

An issue arises……………………………………………

  • Mr Brasano has recently retired and he and his wife are intending to return to North Queensland where they have extended family.

  • They intend to relocate next week.

  • The department supports Thomas’ continued placement with his grandparents as he has made significant gains in their care, and has formed a strong attachment to his sister, Anna.

  • The department has written to Wayne Uhle and Maria Brasano and advised them of the change in circumstances and that as a consequence, their contact will be limited to school holiday periods.

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CASE EXAMPLEAdditional facts - continued

  • Mr Uhle and Ms Brasano are aggrieved by this decision and have made separate applications to the Children Services Tribunal for a review of contact pursuant to s87(2).

  • Mr Uhle has also filed a Notice of Review in relation to ‘in whose care’ Thomas is living pursuant to s86(2). (The department will submit at the preliminary conference that Mr Uhle’s application for review of the ‘in whose care’ decision is out of time as a Notice of Review should have been filed within 28 days of the original decision to place Thomas with Mr and Mrs Brasano.)

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What if………………………………………………………

  • Mr and Mrs Brasano’s blue card is due for renewal.

  • An interstate criminal history check reveals that Mr Brasano was convicted in Victoria of an offence of indecent exposure when he was aged 20 years. The limited facts suggest that he exposed himself to three primary school age children.

  • Mr Brasano had not previously disclosed that he had resided out of Queensland or been convicted of any offences.

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CASE EXAMPLEAddendum - continued

• The Commissioner for Children, Young People and Child Guardian has exercised her discretion and issued a negative notice to Mr Brasano. Mr Brasano is advised that he has a right of review in the Children Services Tribunal against this decision.

  • Mr and Mrs Brasano hold a joint certificate of approval to be kinship carers.

  • As a result of the negative notice being issued, the Department of Child Safety has immediately suspended the Brasanos’ certificate of approval and removed Thomas from their care.

  • While there is no right of review in relation to the decision to suspend their approval, there is a right of review in relation to the removal decision. However, any application for review of the removal decision can neither be heard nor stayed until such time as the blue card issues has been resolved.