Historical care and protection orders are no longer treated as criminal convictions in Victoria
Guest Post by:
Miriam Conrick & Lisa Scholes,
Care Leaver and Personal Records, Freedom of Information, DHHS
In Victoria, until the early 1990’s, the Children’s Court dealt with both child protection and criminal matters, without differentiating between the two. That led to children who entered the “care” system being charged and convicted of being a “neglected child”, being “exposed to moral danger”, or as “likely to lapse,” among others. A similar process was followed in NSW.
These charges have continued to impact on those who were removed from their home and placed in “care”.
Summons for being a neglected child and ‘likely to lapse into a career of crime’
– North Melbourne Children’s Court, 8th July 1939.
Changes to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) now ensure that historical care and protection orders are not treated as criminal convictions or findings of guilt in any circumstances.
From January 1 2019, these changes require (among other things) that responsible agencies attach an information statement to each release of documents that addresses and corrects the criminal nature of these orders.
The information statement is the result of consultation with various care leaver support organisations, including Open Place Victoria, CLAN, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, and Victoria Police.
Where a person’s records may contain information about a charge, these records are not a conviction or finding of guilt. Those who were charged with being neglected or similar are not required to disclose information about a historical care and protection order to another person for any purpose.
Victoria is, so far, the only jurisdiction to have addressed this issue. You can read the “Historical care and protection orders are no longer treated as criminal convictions” (pdf) here: Historical-care-and-protection-order-information-statement.pdf