Birth Parents

Currently, we have a service agreement with the Department Child Protection & Family Support until 2020. When funding from the Department was offered in 2009 it was agreed by our membership that receiving funding from the department legitimises and acknowledges the imperative role that families must participate in the child protection process.

For medical matters you should first check with your Department caseworker. In the case of an emergency, it would be necessary for you to take your child to the doctor or hospital, although you would need to advise the Department immediately afterwards. If this is after hours contact Crisis Care

We provide support, advice and information over the phone or in person to a parent or family member regardless of whether we are working with you or not. We understand the trauma and despair that family members experience when they have children placed in care and are grappling to understand the child protection system. We encourage families to call and talk through their worries with us. We have a small team of workers and often the office may be unattended. Therefore if you call and get the answering machine please leave a message for us to contact you. We will endeavour to return all calls within 1-2 working days. You can also use the ‘contact us’ section on this website to tell us about your situation if you would prefer email contact.

We are able to talk through any issues you may be having in regard to the Department, however, we are not able to place your children in alternative care so that the Department doesn’t place your children in foster care. We can provide you with information regarding other services that can support and work with you regarding the issues you may be having difficulty with. These may include things such as parenting, managing family relationships, drug or alcohol use, mental health concerns etc. These may also be issues that the Department are concerned about in regard to the wellbeing and safety of your children.

Fin WA does not provide financial counselling or assistance, but we can refer you to agencies that may be able to assist with the help you need.

Fin WA provides parents and family members with crisis counselling and support with a focus on brief, solution focussed intervention. As families go through the child protection process they will experience many emotions including anger, sadness, grief and shame.

These are most evident at the initial time of a child being placed in care, however, regardless of how long a child is in care the emotional loss and grief and other associated experiences of isolation and hopelessness is always evident for a parent.

Fin WA workers will provide an empathetic listening ear, help provide insights and assist families to move through the emotional turmoil they experience.

Fin WA can provide this support to any family member and we do not need to be working with you to be a ‘listening ear’.

Fin WA does not provide ongoing, therapeutic counselling as part of its service to birth parents. However, if you want we can make an appropriate referral to another service.

Fin WA runs Information and Support groups for parents and family members. We also  have Family Partners who can give some support.

If you are unhappy about decisions made at a Care Plan you first need to discuss this with the facilitator of the meeting – this is usually the team leader. However if you are not satisfied you may apply for a Case Review Panel to consider your complaint.

You can submit a Case Review Panel Application Form stating which decisions you want reviewed and why. You do not have to give a lot of detail but you will need to physically attend a ‘panel hearing’ and speak about your concerns yourself. You can take a support person with you. Applications for reviews should be submitted within 14 days after receiving the Care Plan but if you need an extension of time call the CRP and explain why.

Contact the CRP on (08) 9222 2593

If you are dissatisfied or unhappy with something that is happening in your case, and you have tried to discuss the matter with your case worker and you haven’t been able to resolve it, you can submit a formal complaint to the Department’s Complaints Management Unit (CMU) to look into the problem. You can do this by:

• completing a complaints form

• ring the CMU for assistance (08) 9222 2594 or 1800 013 311

Your complaint will be written up and the Director from your district will try and address your concerns with you.

You will receive a letter regarding the outcome of the investigation. If you are not satisfied and you want the complaint looked at again, you can take the letter back to the CMU for further investigation.

When you receive the outcome of this, if you are still not satisfied you can take the complaint outside of the department to the Ombudsman of Western Australia by telephoning (08) 9220 7555 or 1800 117 000 (country free call).

The following Acts are under the jurisdiction of Department of Community; Child Protection and Family support:

Children and Community Services Act 2004

Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004

Parent Support and Responsibility Act 2008

Adoption Act 1994

A copy of these Acts can be found via the State Law Publisher of Western Australia Legislation (Statutes and Regulations). Go to: http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/statutes/swans.nsf

Fin WA can assist families who have had their children placed in out of home care or who are at risk of going into care by providing information, advocacy and support. Our role is to help you be more involved and proactive in the child protection process so that you can participate as a key person in your child’s life.

We provide one to one case work by attending meetings you may have with the department, supporting you at court, assist with mediation and negotiation between you and the Department and in consultation with you make referral to appropriate services.

We also provide emotional support and understanding to help you cope with the trauma and difficulties you are experiencing as a result of having had your child/ren taken from your care.

We can provide you with information such as referrals to other agencies and we can provide a Tip Sheet with ideas and a document called Finding Your Way with the Department which has a lot of information about how to manage the system.

It is crucial that if you don’t understand something that has been said or written down that you ask questions. It is also important to attend any meetings or court appearances and to always keep you contact arrangements with your children; if you are unsure of anything – ring and ask someone i.e. your case worker (if he/she isn’t available ask for the team leader or duty officer), a support worker or Fin WA.

If your access (or contact) arrangements are changed at short notice it may be due to your child or the transport worker being ill – or there may be some other explanation; occasionally these things are due to circumstances and not in anyone’s control. However we would hope that the Department would inform you as soon as possible regarding any necessary changes.

If the contact arrangements are changed without your involvement it would be wise in the first instance to raise this concern with the case worker and discuss any problems this may be creating for you. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you can approach the team leader of your case to discuss the situation.

If you are still not satisfied you can go to the Complaints Management Unit and submit a formal complaint. Alternatively, have a look at our “How do I make a complaint?” question above.

You can make contact with us at any time either via email or phone and we will endeavour to answer any of your questions in a confidential manner. You can call the office on (08) 9328 6434 during regular business hours and as we are a very small team you can talk with any of the staff available.

As most of the staff are part time and often meeting with family members, attending court and the Department’s meetings or involved in other tasks, this means the office is sometimes unattended. If you leave your name and contact details we will try and return your call within 1 to 2 working days.

Alternatively you can send an email to the link provided in the ‘contact us’ section and a return email will be provided.

Parents have the right to:

  • be included in the assessment, decision making and planning of their children
  • be informed of all decisions that significantly affect their child;
  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times;
  • participate in transparent and fair processes;
  • have support people to attend meetings alongside you;
  • appeal decisions such as those made at Care Plans;
  • seek legal representation in court proceedings;
  • make complaint without any prejudice being held against you;
  • maintain a relationship with their child;
  • be kept informed about your child’s safety and wellbeing;
  • be given support to enhance the strengths of you and your family.

Fin WA is unable to provide legal representation, however, we strongly suggest that you contact one of the following:

  • Legal Aid Information Line 1300 650 579 www.legalaid.wa.gov.au
  • Children’s Court (Protection Services Legal Aid) 9218 0160
  • Aboriginal Legal Services 1800 019 900 www.als.org.au
  • Mental Health Law Centre 9328 8266 www.mhlcwa.org.au
  • Women’s Law Centre 1800 625 122 or 9272 8800 www.wlcwa.org.au
  • Fremantle Community Legal Centre 9432 9790
  • Gosnells Community Legal Centre 9398 1455
  • MIDLAS (Midland) 9250 2123
  • Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre (Mirrabooka) 9440 1663
  • SCALES Community Legal Centre (Rockingham) 9550 0400
  • Sussex Street Community Legal Centre (East Vic Park) 6253 9500

One of the fundamental principles that Fin WA believes is that parents and family members are central to the assessment, decision making and planning for children when they go into care or are at risk of going into care. Therefore family needs to partake in the process as fairly and equally as possible. We will work alongside you to assist in developing a respectful relationship with the Department as collaboration and partnership are central to the best outcomes for your children. We cannot ever ensure or guarantee that we can ‘get your kids back’; our commitment is to work with you and the Department to help you both engage in a workable relationship.

We recognise that when children go into care parents experience anger, grief, confusion, shock and a range of emotions. It is understandable that it is extremely difficult to engage with the Department when they have removed (or there is a threat to remove) your children. We help to bridge this difficult gap by assisting you to develop coping skills and communication strategies so that you can focus on addressing the concerns the Department have. We also assist the Department to understand how perplexing, confusing and traumatising it is to have your children placed in care and that engaging with you with empathy, respect and regard will help.

Our focus is to provide you with information and build on your strengths so that you feel better equipped to communicate and negotiate with the Department

As part of our work with you Fin WA will negotiate for you with the Department, although it is our aim to help you develop the confidence and skills necessary to communicate confidently with the Department. It may be necessary for us to begin by some mediation first with the aim being you and the department will develop a workable relationship. We will also assist, where appropriate with other government departments and agencies on your behalf – at all times working with you about your own negotiation skills.
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