Advice Leaflet 3: How to deal with the Family and Community Services, Community Services division (formerly DoCS now FaCS): Twelve suggestions
1. Remember once FaCS is involved in your life nothing about your life, or that of your partner, is private or confidential.
FaCS has the power to subpoena your police and health records and ask other agencies or individuals such as counsellors, to provide information about you. You have no power to stop this from happening.
2. Remember for FaCS child protection is a forensic, investigative and prosecutorial process.
Anything you say or do is liable to be used to support the FaCS's case that your children are in need of care and protection and should be placed in the care of the Minister, usually until they reach the age of 18 years.
3. Never shout at, insult or threaten an agency caseworker.
If you do it will be seen as evidence of your non-cooperation and this will go against you. It may even appear in a caseworker's report to the Children's Court.
4. Always provide all the information that FaCS may request.
If you are found to have withheld information this will go against you. You will be viewed as unreliable.
5. Do not lie to the agency caseworker or in the Children's Court.
The lie is always found out and then it goes against you. You will be viewed as unreliable and untrustworthy.
6. Consult a lawyer immediately you are involved with the agency and before an Emergency Care and Protection order is made (usually within 72 hours of a child's removal).
Be truthful with the lawyer. A lawyer cannot assist you if he/she does not have the full story.
7. When attending the Children's Court it is vital that you arrive on time and be polite to everyone including agency personnel. Dress as smartly as possible.
If you are late, make a noisy scene or look scruffy this will go against you as you will have created a poor image of yourself.
8. When visiting your children for contact purposes never discuss the court case with them.
If you do this it will be seen as inappropriate behaviour and it will go against you. It can even lead to the suspension of contact visits. FaCS has the power to do this. Do what ever the agency ask you to do in relation to contact with your children. Never miss a visit with your children.
9. If there are grandparents who might be able to care for your children they may need a lawyer and apply to the Children's Court to be in the case.
This is called being made a party to the case. It is an important signal to the Court that they care about your children.
10. Never sign any papers that a Community Services division caseworker asks you to sign.
Any such requests should firstly be discussed with your lawyer. Tell FaCS caseworkers that your lawyer has asked you not to sign anything.
11. Ask for a numbered and written list of the actions you must take for the Community Services division to consider restoring your child (if a child has been removed) and do all of them immediately.
Any delay will work against you. For example you may need to clean your house and stop using drugs or get an apprehended violence order against someone close to you.
12. Go to every Court date unless your lawyer tells you not to attend.
Not attending Court will create the impression that you are unreliable and do not care about your child.