What we do

Child safety focusses on engaging with families earlier and, where appropriate, keeping children safely at home.

Assessment orders

Assessment orders

A thorough investigation and assessment is critical in determining whether a child is need of protection.

Investigations will usually be conducted with the consent of the parents. Where this is not possible or appropriate, an application is made for an assessment order to enable the actions required to complete the investigation.

Assessment orders authorise actions during the investigation and assessment process where the consent of the parents has not been able to be obtained.

There are two types of assessment orders:

  • Temporary assessment orders (TAO) - If parents will not consent to the actions necessary to complete an investigation and assessment a TAO can be sought from a magistrate. TAOs can authorise a number of actions including the authority to temporarily take a child into the custody of the chief executive (Director-General) of the department. A TAO remains in effect for three days from midnight on the date it was decided and can only be extended once, for one business day, if the magistrate is satisfied that an application will be made for a court assessment order or a child protection order.
  • Court assessment order (CAO) - The department must apply to the court for a CAO when a parent will not consent to the actions required to complete an investigation. CAOs provide the authority for a number of actions that allow for the completion of an investigation including temporarily taking a child into the custody of the chief executive (Director-General) of the department when it has been determined more than three business days will be needed to complete the investigation and assessment. CAOs are granted for a maximum of 28 days, however the Child Protection Act 1999 allows for one extension of a further 28 days.

 Under both a TAO and a CAO, guardianship remains with the child’s parents.

Admissions to assessment orders

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).
  2. Counts the number of temporary assessment orders and court assessment orders made during the reference period.
  3. Where a child is the subject of more than one admission to a temporary assessment order during the period, an admission to a temporary assessment order is counted for each instance.
  4. Where a child is the subject of more than one admission to a court assessment order during the period, an admission to a court assessment order is counted for each instance.
  5. Age group: Based on the age of the child at the time the concerns were received.
  6. Non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander: Includes non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and children whose Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status is unknown or not stated.

Definition notes

  1. Assessment order: An assessment order is a short term order that may be granted by either a magistrate or the court, under the Child Protection Act 1999, to allow a range of activities to occur to complete an investigation and assessment, when a parent has not given consent for these actions to occur.

  2. Temporary assessment order: A temporary assessment order (TAO) authorises actions during the investigation and assessment process when parental consent cannot be obtained. A TAO can provide the authority to take a child into the custody of the chief executive, but guardianship rights and responsibilities remain with the child's parents. A TAO may also order specific actions relating to the assessment of a notification, for example, the conduct of a medical assessment in relation to a child. A TAO can only be granted for a period of 3 business days and can be extended by 1 business day.

  3. Court assessment order: A court assessment order (CAO) is an order made under the Child Protection Act 1999, chapter 2, to authorise actions necessary as part of an investigation and assessment to determine whether a child is in need of protection, if:

    - the child's parents have not provided their consent for these actions or the parents' consent cannot be obtained and 
    - it is considered that it will take more than three business days to complete the investigation and assessment.