QCAT can take a new look at (review) some decisions made by the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs (the Department).
Reviewable decisions about children and young people include:
- who they should live with
- not telling their parents where they are living
- the amount and type of contact between them and their parents; or
- other care arrangements
If you feel that a decision made by the Department about you, a child who is a family member, or a child in your care is wrong, then you can apply to QCAT for a review of this decision.
What do you need to know about the review process if you are a child or young person?
QCAT makes decisions concerning children and young people.
QCAT is here to help you if you are a child or young person. If you are unhappy with the decision the Department made about you, you can ask QCAT to take another look at (review) the decision. QCAT can look at all of the information to see if the right decision was made.
You may want QCAT to look at decisions such as:
- “My care arrangements”
- “Not telling my parents who is caring for me and where I am living”
- “Not letting me contact my family”
- “Telling me how I will see my family”; and/or
- “Taking me away from my carer”
QCAT can help you with this. The steps you should take to ask QCAT to look at the decision are as follows:
Try to talk to someone from the Department about your feelings. This may be your Child Safety Officer (CSO).
They may be able to explain why the decision was made and help you work things out.
Make sure you have a copy of the letter from the Department about the decision. You will need to give this to QCAT. If you can't get a copy of the letter, ask QCAT for help.
You don't need to tell the Department, your family, or your carer you are going to ask QCAT for help, unless you want to.
You need to tell us what is wrong by following the application process at the end of this page. To tell us what is wrong you will need to complete the correct form named ‘FORM 17 – Application to review a decision – childrens matters’. You can ask someone to help you fill in this form.
You will need to include the copy of the letter from the Department about your decision. Usually, you need to apply to QCAT within 28 days of learning about the decision.
If you want QCAT to stop something happening very quickly you can also ask for a ‘stay’ of the decision made by the Department. A stay means QCAT can temporarily stop the decision being carried out, until a meeting has been conducted with everyone involved or a final hearing can be held.
You can request a stay of a decision made by the Department by ticking the box on page 5 of the same application form when you apply to review a decision.
After you make an application, QCAT will organise for everyone involved to have their say. This may be where they bring everyone together to have a discussion (compulsory conference) or a more formal meeting (hearing). QCAT will let you know who will be there and what you need to do.
We will help you try to work out the problem.
If the problem can't be worked out, QCAT will make a decision. QCAT may agree with the Department's decision or may change it.
You can talk to a Child Advocate from the Office of the Public Guardian who can help you make an application and help present your views to QCAT.
You can also talk to Legal Aid Queensland or another agency, who can help you complete any paperwork.
The staff at QCAT can explain how everything works and what will happen next.
Office of the Public Guardian
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) community visitor (CV) or Child Advocate, who are lawyers, can provide support and advice. They have a special responsibility to support and protect the rights of children and young people in out-of-home care. They can help make sure your voice is heard, particularly when decisions are made that affect you and your care arrangements.
You can contact the OPG in a range of ways including via phone, email or text message.
Legal advice and representation
You can call Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88 to ask for legal help. You can also get legal advice from solicitors, community legal centres or other community organisations. You are allowed to have legal representation automatically at QCAT and can appoint someone at any time.
Talk to QCAT
If you need to speak to QCAT about forms, the process or other matters that you may be unsure of related to the review of the decision call QCAT on 1300 753 228 (8.30am to 3.00pm weekdays, excluding Tuesdays 9am to 3.00pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
These organisations can help you by talking about any problems you have and helping you complete the application form and any other paperwork.
The Youth Advocacy Centre offers free and confidential legal and welfare assistance.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services can assist if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. You could talk to The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services or you could also talk to people you trust, like local elders.
What do you need to know about the review process if you are a parent or carer?
If you are a parent, foster carer or kinship carer and a decision has been made by the Department you do not agree with, you should talk to the Department first. They may be able to explain why the decision was made and help you work things out.
If you are still unhappy with the decision, you can ask QCAT to review the decision made by the Department.
Before you apply, it is important to understand the review process and which decisions made by the Department you can ask QCAT to review.
Generally, you may apply to QCAT to conduct a review of a decision made by the Department when you are an ‘aggrieved person’. That is where a decision affects you and you have been issued with a reviewable decision letter by the Department.
Before making an application to QCAT, you should view the decision letter issued to you by the Department to confirm your right of review at QCAT.
If you are a parent, foster carer or kinship carer the following decisions made by the Department can be reviewed by QCAT:
- directing a parent in relation to a supervision case stated in a child protection order
- deciding who will care for a child under a child protection order which has granted the chief executive custody or guardianship
- not informing a child’s parents of who is caring for the child and where they are living
- refusing to allow contact between a child and the child’s parents or a member of the child’s family
- restricting or imposing conditions on the contact between a child and the child’s parents or a member of the child’s family
- removing a child from a carer
- refusing an application for or renewal of a licence for reasons other than not having a positive prescribed notice or blue card
- refusing an application for or renewal of a certificate of approval as an approved foster carer or an approved kinship carer in situations for reasons other than not having a positive prescribed notice or blue card
- cancelling an authority
- refusing an application for an amendment of authority other than a provisional certificate
- amending an authority other than a provisional certificate; and
- suspending or cancelling an authority other than a provisional certificate
When you file your application to review a decision, QCAT may:
- request a list of parties who are affected by the original decision from the Department
- issue a notice of election to each party affected by the review of the decision, allowing the parties to nominate themselves to be included in the review process
- issue directions to the parties. Directions are instructions to the parties involved on how the case will proceed. The directions will include time for filing of evidence, other material and joining of further parties if required
- list the case for a directions hearing or further dispute resolution proceeding to assist the parties to reach agreement and resolve the problem if required
- ask the parties to gather and file their evidence to support their side of the argument if the problem is not resolved
- list the case for a hearing, after the parties have filed their evidence. If a child is required to give evidence QCAT will make special arrangements for this to occur; and
- after the hearing, QCAT will then make a final decision based on the law and the evidence provided by the parties
Participating in the review process can take a considerable length of time and resources and parties should consider this before making an application to QCAT.
Hearings about children and young people are held in private. There are also specific requirements to keep the information given in QCAT proceedings for child protection proceedings confidential. These requirements are strict due to the sensitive nature of the information given in proceedings and the need to protect the privacy of the parties and children involved.
Only parties can have access to the information given in proceedings and this access may be restricted under a confidentiality order (non-publication order). QCAT can allow publication of information where the information is in the public interest, and it does not conflict with the best interests of the child. Any information allowed to be published by QCAT must be de-identified so that any person involved in the proceeding cannot be easily identified.
QCAT can make a confidentiality order prohibiting or restricting a party’s access to some of the evidence or a document that has been given to QCAT as part of the proceedings. QCAT can make the confidentiality order with or without an application by a party.
If you do wish to apply for a confidentiality order (non-publication order) please use the FORM 40 – Application for miscellaneous matters below when you apply to review your decision.
QCAT will only make the order if it believes that a child is likely to be harmed, the safety of another person is likely to be endangered or there would be undue interference with the privacy of another person if QCAT did not make the order.
Access to the register and records of proceedings for child protection cases is limited to the parties involved in the proceedings. Access can also be further restricted by the terms of a non-publication order.
When a review case is brought to QCAT, the original decision-maker must use their best endeavours to help QCAT in the review. This includes:
- providing QCAT with a written statement of reasons for the original decision
- providing any document or thing in the decision-maker’s possession or control which may be relevant; and
- providing additional statements of further particulars as required by QCAT
At any stage of the proceeding should the Department not provide relevant material, or if you consider there is further evidence for QCAT to consider, QCAT can ask the Department for this material after your application is filed.
You can check the decision letter to find out if there is a time limit and what the limit is.
Generally, you need to apply to QCAT for a review of a decision in child protection cases within 28 days from when you are notified of the reviewable decision.
If you have not received reasons for the decision, you have 28 days to apply to QCAT from the day the reasons are given to you or 28 days from when you asked for the reasons, whichever is earliest.
Due to circumstances outside your control or some other reason, if your application to review a decision has not been made within the required review period of 28 days, in some cases you can ask QCAT for permission to extend the statutory time limit.
QCAT can only grant an extension of time if it is satisfied there is a reasonable excuse for delay. QCAT will consider your application, but it is not obliged to grant the extension.
When you apply to QCAT for the review, you must complete an application to extend the statutory time limit. You must also give a copy of the application to extend the review time limit along with the review application to QCAT and the other parties.
You can view a copy of the relevant extension request application form below when you apply to review a decision.
The time for QCAT to finalise a case may vary depending on QCAT’s workload and the number of steps to be completed by parties as required by QCAT to resolve the dispute. The current average time to consider children and young people cases and finalise your case can be found on our expected timeframes page.
How do I make an application to review a decision?
To make an application, please select your case type from the list below:
Help and further information
Queensland Legislation related to children and young people cases includes:
- Child Protection Act 1999
- Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009
The Acts are available on the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website.
Decisions about children and young people made by:
- the Children Services Tribunal before 1 December 2009, can be found in the Queensland Children Services Tribunal 2003-2009 section on the Australasian Legal Information Institute website
- QCAT and QCATA after 1 December 2009 can be found in the children’s matters section on the Supreme Court of Queensland Library website
For legal advice
* Contact the private solicitor of your choice
* Use Queensland Law Society’s Find a Solicitor service.
* Contact Community Legal Centres Queensland for details on your local community legal centre on 07 3392 0092
* Legal Aid Queensland provides legal information, advice, and representation to financially and socially disadvantaged Queenslanders.
For assistance in legal proceedings
LawRight Court and QCAT Services
LawRight is an independent, non-profit community based legal organisation that coordinates pro bono legal services for individuals and community groups. Parties with proceedings in QCAT may be able to obtain assistance from LawRight’s Court & Tribunal Services to self-represent or in limited circumstances, be given representation.
If you are unsure if you are eligible for assistance from LawRight or wish to make an enquiry, contact the service by phone on 07 3564 7561 or by email at email@example.com or by writing to PO Box 12217, George Street QLD 4003.
To apply for help from LawRight, please complete the application form here. If you are unable to complete the online form, contact LawRight to discuss alternative arrangements
Community legal centres
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services can assist if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. You could talk to The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services or you could also talk to people you trust, like local elders.
Caxton Legal Centre is an independent, non-profit community organisation providing free legal and social work advice, assistance and referrals to the general public. Please note that the Caxton Legal Centre does not provide advice about building or other business and commercial disputes.
Women's Legal Service is a community legal centre that provides free legal advice and information to women in Queensland.
Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs is the lead agency for the whole-of-government response to child protection in Queensland. If you need further information you can access the web link above.
Queensland Foster and Kinship Care is the peak body for foster and kinship carers in Queensland. If you are a carer and are applying to QCAT to have a decision reviewed, you can apply to Queensland Foster Care to act on your behalf throughout QCAT’s process.
Office of the Public Guardian is an independent statutory office established to protect the rights, interests and wellbeing of adults with impaired decision-making capacity, and children and young people in care - foster care, kinship care, residential care - and at visitable sites such as residential facilities, detention centres, corrective services facilities, and authorised mental health services.
Queensland Family and Child Commission promotes the safety, wellbeing and best interests of children and young people with a focus on the responsibility of families and communities to protect and care for children and young people. The Commission works collaboratively to strengthen the child and family support sector, advocates on behalf of vulnerable children and young people and aims to improve the child protection system by monitoring its performance.
Youth Advocacy Centre offers free confidential legal and welfare assistance to young people who live in or around Brisbane. Support is provided to young people who are 10-18 years of age (inclusive), and those who are up to 25 years of age where they are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Telephone support is also provided to young people outside of Brisbane and throughout Queensland.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)’s registry is here to administer your case and provide general information. Please see below what registry staff can and cannot do to assist with your case.
Registry staff can:
* answer questions about QCAT processes;
* provide information about QCAT’s different types of forms that are available for your consideration;
* provide you with information and support about how to lodge an application;
* refer and/or process any request to access the QCAT register of proceedings (a publicly available list of QCAT cases) or the record of proceedings (the case files themselves);
* advise on fees and allowances, and how to apply for a waiver of fees;
* guide you in checking your forms are complete before lodgement (e.g. signed in the correct places); or
* give you information on legal organisations that could help.
Registry staff cannot:
* provide legal advice;
* advise on whether you should submit an application and whether you are filing under the correct legal area (eg minor civil dispute – consumer or trader or minor civil dispute – minor debt);
* tell you if you should lodge an appeal or a counter-application;
* recommend a specific lawyer to assist you;
* instruct you on how to word your application, supporting documents or what to say at a proceeding;
* contact a QCAT member or adjudicator directly on your behalf;
* predict likely outcomes of a case or appeal;
* help you prepare your case;
* advise what orders or decisions you should seek;
* explain what you should do to follow QCAT directions;
* recommend your next steps regarding enforcing an order or tribunal decision; or
* advise on exact timeframes for resolution of a case – this depends on your individual case.