Child Protection’s (DHHS) Rights to take my child


The Children, Youth and Families Amendment Bill proposes to extend the time child protection workers can remove children from their parents from one working day to two working days.

This may see children separated from their families for several days should the removal coincide with a weekend. It’s essential to understand your rights against DHHS Victoria during such times.

Currently, within the 24-hour timeframe of separation, the Children’s Court hears emergency care applications to determine whether the removal was justified. With the proposed bill, the period between separation and the court hearing will be doubled in case the bill is passed . This shift in the child protection services system is significant and could lead to profound implications.

The Government’s Arguments

  • Children are given more time to seek support services, rest and attain medical attention before attending court the following morning.
  • It enables more effective legal representation as parents and children have more time to meet with lawyers, so that lawyers can properly prepare for the court appearance, which would lead to less adjournments and delays. This creates a swifter timeline for court matters.
  • The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare states that government had extensively consulted with experts over the bill and agreed to ensure young people under the age of 21 without care are afforded an allowance.
  • The extension ensures children are not waiting in hours in police stations and courtrooms which minimises trauma on children.

The Opposition’s Arguments

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) do not have to provide any evidence to justify child removal until the court hearing.
  • The extension of a child’s time away from their family can lead to separation anxiety and attachments issues which can be traumatic for children.
  • Joel Orenstein from the Law Institute of Victoria clarifies that most cases of child removal are found to be unwarranted.
  • The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service contends that the decision conveniences the DHHS as opposed to prioritising the interests and welfare of children and that the bill is akin to the child removal that occurred during the Stolen Generation.

Our perspective on the legislation is that there is immense value in ensuring that the removal power of the DHHS is used responsively and responsibly.

It is essential to mention the National Disability Insurance Scheme here, as it plays a crucial role in supporting children with disabilities who may be affected by these potential changes.

The removal of a child is sometimes authorised by junior and inexperienced departmental staff and is frequently traumatic for parents and children.

The 24-hour rule within the child protection system has been in operation for decades. We consider that the sooner a magistrate gets to review the decision to remove a child by the DHHS, the better outcomes for children and parents. Legal practitioners are also trained to deal with acting at short notice, meaning there is little need for this extension. This proposed change is a drastic step.

If you need assistance from an experienced children’s lawyer or Child Protection Lawyer in Melbourne, please contact Rowan Skinner & Associates Lawyers on (03) 9995 9155 to assist you with your child protection matters.

You can also check out our other blog around what are the rules about child custody and access here.


Topsfield, J. (2021, November 16). Children removed from families face longer wait before court hearings. The Age.

By Lloyd Skinner

Rowan Skinner

About Rowan Skinner

Rowan Skinner is a highly skilled family lawyer with over 35 years of experience across various legal roles and jurisdictions. Rowan specialises in resolving family law disputes such as divorce, financial settlements, child custody and domestic violence cases. Through his diverse and extensive experience, Rowan has a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances involved in family law. Rowan is a skilled negotiator and litigator who follows a compassionate and client-focused approach which prioritises helping you navigate what can be an emotional and challenging time.