Working with NSW Department of Communities and Justice  

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice is the government agency responsible for child protection in New South Wales

The Department has the legal power to remove children from the care of their families but only if they are at risk of significant harm. They must have their decisions looked at by a court. For more information about the legal processes of child removal and for contact details for lawyers who are interested in representing parents check the Family Inclusion Network of NSW website.

Working with the Department

It can be very challenging to work with the Department especially at a time when you are so stressed and worried about what will happen with your child. These are some tips and ideas that other parents have found helpful when working with the Department and the Department caseworkers. 

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Get legal advice as early as possible.

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Have a support person with you to help you in your interactions with the Department. This can be a worker, a friend or anyone you trust. It is OK to have a support person with you and it is also OK for you to ask for this person to speak on your behalf if you are feeling very upset. When someone talks on your behalf they are often called an advocate. This means they may ask for services and outcomes that you feel you need and that are good for your kids.

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Keep records of all your communications and interactions with the Department. This includes phone calls, emails., letters and meetings. Use a journal to record verbal conversations and ask all decisions to be given to you in writing.

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Ask for contact with your child as soon as possible.

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Provide any information that you feel the foster carer of your child needs to know. If your child is being cared for by someone you know they may still need information that only you have about your child. If you are not able to contact them ask the Department to pass this information on to them.

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If you don’t know who is caring for your child ask the Department to arrange a meeting with them so you can start to get to know one another. They may not agree to this but it is still worth asking. Good relationships between foster carers and parents lead to better outcomes for kids.

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Ask about decision making processes and how you are to be involved.

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Come to all appointments and meetings on time.

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If you are having a really stressful day and worry that you might not be able to speak to the Department in a helpful way, write down what you would like to say and phone later when you are feeling clearer and calmer.

The Law

The Department is required to comply with the law at all times. The main area of law that governs what the Department does (and many other agencies including OOHC agencies) is the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, 1998. If this is possible for you, try and spend some time getting to know this Act and how it works. Remember that the law is complex and nothing can replace legal advice about your particular situation. Getting a lawyer is very important. Even if you feel you can trust the Department and you feel there are lots of areas of agreement it is still important to get legal advice and legal representation in court.

Help over the phone

Call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 to get started

Find information

We have factsheets and resources to help you with your problem

Hunter Valley and Central Coast Department contact details:

Charlestown Community Services Centre (CSC)

309 Charlestown Road, Charlestown

Tel: 02 4985 1500

Maitland CSC,

309 Charlestown Road, Charlestown

Tel: 02 4985 1500

Raymond Terrace CSC

29 Port Stephens Street, Raymond Terrace

Tel: 02 4983 4300

Cessnock CSC

6 Charlton Street, Cessnock

Tel: 02 4993 5000

Mayfield CSC

330 Maitland Road, Mayfield

Tel: 02 4904 8600

Taree CSC

42 Victoria Street, Taree

Tel: 02 5594 2000

Wyong CSC

9 Hely Street, Wyong

Tel: 02 4352 6500

Edgeworth CSC

720 Main Road, Edgeworth

Tel: 02 4958 0100

Muswellbrook CSC

6 Market Lane, Muswellbrook

Tel: 02 6542 3444

Gosford CSC

231 – 237 Mann Street, Gosford

Tel: 02 4321 7500

Need to make a complaint?

The Hunter Valley and Central Coast Department contact details are listed above. If you want to make a complaint about FACS check our making complaints page.