Law Week 2017 Justice Journeys

Child protection duty lawyer

Legal Aid Queensland's child protection duty lawyers are at the frontline - navigating the highly complex and often emotionally-charged child protection legal system.

Child protection duty lawyers play an invaluable role in helping clients make informed decisions prior to court about a child protection matter. Having a child protection duty lawyer available to assist means that parents can feel more supported, more aware of their rights and, perhaps most importantly, listened to.

If you’re attending the Childrens Court for a child protection matter, you may see one of Legal Aid Queensland’s (LAQ) child protection duty lawyers on your court date. This is a free service giving legal help to parents and young people before they appear in court for a child protection matter. Duty lawyers operate in Brisbane, Ipswich, Southport, Maroochydore, Toowoomba, Caboolture, Pine Rivers, Cairns and Townsville Childrens Courts.

The child protection duty lawyer service helps some of the community’s most vulnerable people. For example, parents who arrive at Childrens Court for child protection matters may have recently had a child removed from their care, be facing final orders or be part way through what can be a long and complicated court process. They may also have been served with complicated and voluminous court material at relatively short notice.

As part of the service, child protection duty lawyers may give free legal information and advice, help clients make an application for legal aid, or appear in court to assist the client if appropriate. This service is provided in collaboration with lawyers from private law firms undertaking legal aid work and community legal centres.

On any given day, the child protection duty lawyer may deal with issues ranging from advising clients about applications for child protection orders (filed by the Director of Child Protection Litigation or the Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor) through to advising clients about family group meetings and court ordered conferences. Child protection duty lawyers also provide essential advice to clients about interim orders made by the Childrens Court – for example, relating to contact between a child and their family.

Another key role played is in helping clients negotiate agreements with the Office of the Director of Child Protection Litigation and/or the Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor. For example, this may involve assisting clients with negotiating interim orders or directions to be made by the court, or to clarify or narrow child protection issues in dispute.

Child protection duty lawyers play an invaluable role helping clients understand the court process and to make informed decisions about their child protection matter. Having a child protection duty lawyer available to assist means that parents can feel more supported, more aware of their rights and, perhaps most importantly, listened to.