Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.
NSW has the highest rate of child removals in Australia.
It also has the highest number of children in foster care.
In 2017, 22,400 children are forecasted to be removed from homes in NSW and placed into foster care.
What happens to these children? Are they really better off away from their families?
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has uncovered that children taken away by FACS are 68 times more likely to appear in the Children’s Court than other Australian children.
This makes child removals one of the most important family law issues of the century.
It’s no wonder that parents who have their children removed are in a state of panic and fear for the futures of their children.
But on the other side of the coin, frightening cases of child abuse that result in the neglect and potential death of children.
This results in a confusing family law issue where FACS should make certain that in the event they do wish to remove a child, they need to be certain of the circumstances at hand.
Foster care has become a booming industry at the expense of the taxpayer.
For the last financial year, Australian taxpayers paid $1.07 billion for out of home care.
What Happens When FACS Takes Your Children
Parents are given little notice before FACS attends their homes and takes their children. It normally takes 10 minutes for FACS to come to your house unannounced, provide you with the relevant paperwork and then walk away with your children.
Children either go to foster families or into facilities that take care of them.
Parents are then required to attend parenting programs where they are taught how to be better parents.
Once a child has been removed from a parent, a FACS caseworker makes an application to the Children’s Court.
The application tells the Court why Community Services believes your child was not safe with you, and explains what they intend to do.
“I think those that are in the FACS system feels marginalised and isolated,” says Chantelle*, a mother whose kids were in foster care for 14 months before she won them back.
“My children were taken away from me because of a slight mishap. They ended up in hospital and FACS then took that as a sign that I was being neglectful. I’m not a bad person. I’ve never had a criminal record and I don’t take drugs.”
Anyone who suspects that a child is at risk of being neglected or physically, sexually or emotionally abused is encouraged to contact FACS.
When making a report, you do not need any solid evidence or proof of the abuse of the child. You only need to have reasonable grounds for making a report to FACS.
FACS will then respond to the report by making contact with the parent by telephone or by making a home visit.
Sometimes a caseworker may speak to the child before they get in contact with the child’s parents. You may feel alarmed about this, however this is FACS procedure.
A caseworker will be assigned to your matter who will work closely with you to understand the family situation and make an assessment about the children.
By law, the caseworker’s first priority must be the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child or young person.
Whilst this is going on, you still have the right to understand and get advice on the following family law issues:
- Appeal to the Children’s Court about the order placed on your child
- Be provided with details about the whereabouts of your children
- Be provided with details about who is caring for the children.
- Be informed of your child’s progress and development during their placement
- Ask Community Services for services which could help your child to return to your care.
You should make it clear to FACS that you intend to have your children returned to your care, and ask them for a clear plan with detailed steps you need to take in order for you to be reunited with your child.