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Guardianship orders aim to give children and young people greater stability after a Children’s Court decision that they cannot live with their parents. These orders help make sure a child or young person has a stable, nurturing and safe home without cutting legal ties to their family.
Under a guardianship order, a child or young person is not in foster care or out-of-home care but in the independent care of their guardian.
A guardian is a person who provides a caring, safe home for a child or young person until they turn 18 years old. Guardians have full care and responsibility for a child or young person in their care. They make decisions about health and education, and manage contact between a child or young person and their parents, family and important people in their lives. A guardian also ensures their emotional, social, cultural and spiritual needs are met.
The Children’s Court can make a guardianship order for a child or young person who needs care and protection or who is currently in out-of-home care. If it is safe to do so, a guardianship order will still give a child or young person contact with their parents, family and important people in their life.
If a child or young person is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or from a different cultural background to their guardian, they will still maintain connections with their culture and community. They will have a cultural support plan that identifies their cultural needs. Guardians follow this plan and encourage and facilitate the child or young person to participate in cultural activities and events.
A guardian can be a relative or kinship carer, a family friend or an authorised carer who has an established and positive relationship with the child or young person.
Anyone wanting to become a guardian will go through a detailed review and assessment process. This includes seeking the views of the child or young person, their family and their carer. Children or young people aged 12 years or older must give their written consent to a guardianship order being made, where they are capable of doing so.
The Children’s Court makes the final decision about a guardianship order being made.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a guardian, speak to your caseworker or contact your local Community Services Centre. You can also call the guardian information line on 1300 956 416.
On 29 October 2014, the Children’s Court granted guardianship orders to relative and kinship carers who had already been granted full parental responsibility orders.
This meant that relative and kinship carers who had full parental responsibility for a child or young person in their care became guardians.
If there were any additional conditions in the parental responsibility order, such as contact arrangements, these conditions continue as outlined in the final order.
Guardians receive an allowance, known as a guardianship allowance, to enable them to meet the needs of the child or young person. This allowance is the same rate as the FACS statutory care allowance and is based on the individual needs of the child or young person.
Guardians can get help from a range of local services, including child and family support, family counselling, health services, youth programs and disability and child care services.
Local Community Services Centres may be able to help guardians contact these services.
Guardians may also be eligible for support from the Department of Human Services (Centrelink), which offers a range of benefits and concessions.