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News from 2012

Launch of evaluation reports on Alternative Dispute Resolution Initiatives in the Children's Court and pre-court Family Group Conferencing Pilot

18 December 2012: The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has conducted evaluations into the use of Dispute Resolution Conferences, the External Care and Protection Mediation Pilot, and the Family Group Conferencing Pilot program.

The Attorney General Greg Smith formally launched the Evaluation Report on Alternative Dispute Resolution Initiatives in the Children's Court. The AIC has recommended the continued use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in child protection cases, after finding ‘extremely high’ satisfaction rates among families involved in the process. According to the AIC 80% of conferences resulted in matters being finalised or the issues narrowed.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward formally launched the Evaluation of Family Group Conferencing, and this was also favourably reviewed. This pre-court diversionary program was found to be very successful, with 90% of conferences resulting in a plan being developed by the family. Follow this link to the Attorney General's media release.

Children's Law News Volume 4 of 2012 issued

December 2012: CLN Volume 4 includes a number of conference papers and cases from various jurisdictions which are of relevance to the Children's Court jurisdiction.

Amended Practice Note No. 2  Initiating documents for care applications - commences 1 January 2013

Practice Note 2 has been amended to provide for the consolidation of the 2 bundles of documents that are currently served on the respondents by Community Services at the commencement of proceedings into 1 bundle.  Please note that the amended Practice Note will commence on 1 January 2013.    

Children's Court opening hours during the Christmas/New Year holiday period

November 2012: The usual rostered sittings of the Children's Courts will cease between 24 December 2012 and 4 January 2013 inclusive.  Whilst most registries will be open during this period it is recommended that you check with your local registry to confirm the local arrangements.

A bail court will sit at Parramatta Children's Court every day, including public holidays, to deal with all bail applications from across the state via audio visual link.

Parramatta Children's Court will also sit on weekdays that are not public holidays to deal with statewide applications for Emergency Care and Protection Orders and applications for interim orders where a child has been removed from care or where care has been assumed by the Director General of the Department of Family and Community Services.  A magistrate will also be available to deal with statewide applications for urgent apprehended violence interim orders. 

Contact your local registry for filing instructions and information about how you can appear at Parramatta Children's Court during this period if you are outside the Sydney metropolitan area.  

New protocol for the return of subpoenas for production in care and protection proceedings at Parramatta Children's Court

October 2012: A new protocol has been issued to facilitate the making of orders for access to subpoened material in the absence of the parties in appropriate circumstances.  All subpoenas issued from 26 October 2012, which have a return date after 16 November 2012, are subject to the new protocol.The protocol will not affect any subpoena for production that has already been issued. At this stage the protocol only applies at Parramatta Children's Court.

Please also note that the protocol should be read in conjunction with paragraphs 14.1 to 14.16 of Practice Note 5

Changes to Country Care Circuit from 1 October 2012

October 2012: The roster for the Country Care Circuit will change from 1 October 2012. This timetable will be in place for the remainder of 2012. Please follow this link to the new timetable.

Youth Drug and Alcohol Court program discontinuance of new referrals from 1 July 2012

June 2012: From 1 July 2012 the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court program will no longer be funded by the Government. Accordingly, no new referrals will be accepted into the program from this date.

New Children's Court President commenced 4th June 2012

June 2012: Judge Peter Johnstone commenced his appointment as President of the Children's Court of NSW on Monday 4th June. Judge Johnstone replaces Judge Mark Marien SC who has completed his three year term as the first President of the Children's Court.

Practice Note 7 issued "Legal Representation for Children and Young Persons in Proceedings for Compulsory Schooling Orders"

February 2012: Practice Note 7 was issued on 24 February 2012 by the President of the Children's Court, Judge Marien SC. The purpose of this practice note is to provide for the appointment of a legal representative for a child or young person in proceedings for a compulsory schooling order under the Education Act 1990prior to the first listing of the matter before the Children’s Court. The Practice Note commences on 27 February 2012.

Country Care Circuits Rosters for 2012

February 2012: The Children's Court conducts permanent circuits in regional areas of NSW to allow specialist Children's Magistrates to deal with care and protection cases in the Lismore, Dubbo and Riverina regions. The  Country Care Circuit Roster details the standard sitting arrangements for those regions in 2012. Please note that week 1 commences from the first Monday of each month.

New care applications filed at the nominated courts should be listed as soon as possible before the Local Court Magistrate or on a nominated list day before the Children's Magistrate, but only if that day is earlier than the matter could be listed before the Local Court Magistrate. After dealing with any application for interim orders Local Court Magistrates will ordinarily adjourn the matter to the day nominated as the list day before the specialist Children's Magistrate and thereafter the matter will be case managed and if necessary, heard by the specialist Children's Magistrate.

For all other courts not covered by these permanent circuits a country assistance protocol applies. Under this protocol Local Court Magistrates are able to seek the assistance of the President of the Children's Court to allocate a Children's Magistrate to hear complex cases requiring specialist knowledge, matters that are likely to exceed the time standards and matters that require a lengthy hearing.

Care Circles - expanded to Lismore

February 2012: The Honourable Greg Smith SC MP, Attorney General and Minister for Justice launched an expansion of the Care Circle program to Lismore on 8 December 2011. Care Circles enable Aboriginal families to meet with the other parties involved in care and protection proceedings together with Aboriginal leaders and a Children's Magistrate to discuss issues that have lead to action being taken in the Children's Court and to develop a plan for the future safety and wellbeing of the child. The expansion of the program follows the successful implementation of a pilot program in Nowra. It is anticipated that referrals will be accepted in March 2012.