Guideline 1 – child involved in a case in the Family Division of the Children’s Court

Guideline 1 – child involved in a case in the Family Division of the Children’s Court

Guideline 1.1 – Children under the age of 10 years and children aged 10 years or more whom the Court determines are not mature enough to give instructions

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may provide a grant of legal assistance to a child who is the subject of an application in the Children’s Court (Family Division) and is under the age of 10 years, or over the age of 10 years and the court has determined pursuant to section 524(1B) that the child is not sufficiently mature to instruct,

where:

  • a Judicial officer has made an order under section 524(4) that it is in the child’s best interests to be legally represented.

AND

  • VLA considers it appropriate to provide assistance for the child.

Guideline 1.2 – Children aged 10 years or older

VLA may provide a grant of legal assistance to a child who is the subject of an application in the Children’s Court (Family Division), where the child is considered to be mature enough to provide instructions.

VLA will generally consider that a child aged 10 years or older is mature enough to give instructions.

In relation to Guideline 1.1 and 1.2, VLA does not apply the means test to:

Meanings

 ‘child’— as defined in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Reference in these guidelines to legal assistance to a child covers on a direct representation or on a best interests basis as relevant. With respect to legal representation on a best interests basis, the lawyer must be or have been appointed under section 524(5) to legally represent the child on a best interests basis and VLA considers it appropriate to provide assistance for the child. 

Documentary requirements

Applications for children who are less than 10 years old must be referred to VLA by the Court.  Where aid is granted, VLA will allocate the matter to a practitioner on the Child Protection Panel.

Application form signature

As a formality, a child should make their mark on an application for a grant of legal assistance.

Simplified grants assessment process

Lawyers seeking a grant of legal assistance via the simplified grants assessment process must submit an application via ATLAS, only after ensuring that the documents set out under the relevant guideline in Simplified Grants System: Notes on the Guidelines are retained on file (unless they are requested by VLA for assessment).

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a Children's Court (Family Division) worksheet for their file.