Guideline 4 - Review of case planning decisions

Guideline 4 - Review of case planning decisions

Guideline 4.1 – Internal Review of Case Plan Decisions – DHHS

4.1.1 VLA may provide a grant of legal as​sistance for a child or parent to be represented in the internal review of a case planning decision made by the DHHS, where:​

  • there is a current Family Reunification Order;

and

  •  DHHS are proposing a case plan that does not support reunification

and

  • there are reasonable prospects of the case plan being changed by the DHHS

and

  • there is a reasonable prospect of reunification within the legislated timeframe.

4.1.2 VLA may provide a grant of legal assistance for a child to be represented in the internal review of a case planning decision made by the DHHS, where:

  • there is a current Protection Order placing the child out of the parents’ care

and

  • there has been a change in the child’s placement;
  • and there are reasonable prospects of demonstrating that the change in placement was not in the best interests of the child or was inconsistent with the need to protect the child from harm or to protect his or her rights and to promote his or her development

and

  • there is a reasonable prospect of an alternative feasible placement.

Guideline 4.2 – External Review of Case Plan Decisions (VCAT)

4.2.1 VLA may provide a grant of legal assistance for a child or parent to be represented in an application to VCAT for external review of a case planning decision made by the DHHS, wher​e:

  • there is a current Family Reunification Order

and

  • there has been an unsuccessful internal review of a case plan

and

  • there are reasonable prospects of the case plan being changed by VCAT

and

  • there is a reasonable prospect of reunification within the legislated timeframe. 

4.2.2 VLA may provide a grant of legal assistance for a child to be represented in an application to VCAT for external review of a case planning decision made by the DHHS, where:

  • there is a current Protection Order placing the children out of the parents’ care

and

  • there has been a change in the child’s placement
  • and there has been an unsuccessful internal review of a case plan

and

  • there are reasonable prospects of a VCAT decision that finds that the change in placement was not in the best interests of the child or was inconsistent with the need to protect the child from harm or to protect his or her rights and to promote his or her development

and

  • there is a reasonable prospect of an alternative feasible placement.

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.

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

‘legislated timeframe’— as defined by the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, which provides that a family reunification order can be made for a period with the effect of a child being in court ordered out of home care for up to 12 months.  The order can only be extended where there is compelling evidence that reunification will occur within the extension period, and provided the extension will not have the effect of the child being in court-ordered out-of-home-care for more than 24mths.

Documentary requirements

Information to assist practitioners with the grants application and assessment process and documentary requirements is set out under the relevant guideline in Simplified Grants System: Notes on the Guidelines.

Simplified grants assessment process

Grants to seek an internal review of a case planning decision can be submitted via the simplified grants assessment process and must be submitted on 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).

Grants to seek an external review of a case planning decision in VCAT are submitted by way of an extension on the substantive grant (where the internal review was legally aided) or by way of a new grant (where the internal review was not legally aided).  These applications are VLA assessed.  Lawyers seeking a grant of legal assistance must submit an application via ATLAS, uploading the appropriate documents set out under the relevant guideline in Simplified Grants System: Notes on the Guidelines and retaining on file the remaining documents set out in the Notes.

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