Children and young people in care

If you are in care, it is the Department of Communities' job to make sure that you are well looked after and safe, and that you are getting everything you need.

What does it mean to come into care?

It means the Department is responsible for your wellbeing. Your case worker works with you and your carers to ensure that you are being properly looked after, and that your care plan is being followed. This includes things like where you live, when you see your family and other important people, the school you go to, your health and cultural needs, the sports and leisure activities you take part in, and all your other day-to-day needs.

Children and young people come into care for different reasons. It is important that you understand why you came into care and how long you will be in care. Ask your case worker if you are not sure.

What rights do I have?

You have rights while you’re in care. These have been put together in a list called the Charter of Rights. It’s for all children and young people in care. You should have your own copy and have it explained to you by your case worker.

If you don’t have one, ask for it. It’s a good idea to read through the Charter of Rights regularly to remind yourself of your rights and ask any questions about it.

All your rights are important, but other children and young people in care have said one thing that’s really important to them is the right to privacy. You have the right to keep in touch with friends and family whenever possible and can ask to have private conversations without anyone listening to what you’re saying.

You have the right to keep your personal belongings in a safe place, and not have other people going into your room without your permission. You also have the right not to have your personal information discussed with people who don’t need to know. If you need more information or feel your rights aren’t being respected, speak to your carer, case worker or the Advocate for Children in Care about this.

If you have any questions about the Charter of Rights, contact your caseworker, talk to your carer or contact the Advocate for Children in Care.

Your stuff and other issues

What about your stuff?

If there are still some things at your family home that you would like to have, you can talk to your case worker about trying to get them for you. It is a good idea to have a chat with your carer about how things are looked after in your placement. Every household is different, but remember that your personal needs and privacy are important wherever you are living.

Who will pay for the things you need?

Your carer receives some money from the Department to pay for your food, clothes and everyday things like your toothbrush, shampoo, haircuts, basic medical treatment and general items from the pharmacy. If you need money for extra things, you can talk to your carer or case worker. Sometimes they won’t be able to make the decision straight away and will have to check with their Team Leader or District Director. They will tell you when a decision is made. You have the right to get the essential things you need, at the right time. 

Do you get pocket money?

All children and young people in care may receive pocket money until they are 16 years old. The amount you get will depend on how old you are. You can ask your case worker or the Advocate for Children in Care if you want information about pocket money. After you are 16 years old, you might be able to get a Centrelink allowance. The Department does not give you pocket money if you get a Centrelink allowance, if you have a job or if your parents are paying some money.

Who makes the decisions about what you are allowed to do?

This depends on what you are asking to do. Your carers can make some everyday decisions like signing most permission slips from school, and deciding if you can stay at a friend’s house for a night. Some bigger decisions can only be made by your case worker, your parents or your case worker’s Team Leader or District Director. These people have to make some hard decisions, for example, letting you have an operation or giving you permission to do an activity where you could get hurt. Your District Director is the person who decides whether you can travel to other parts of Australia or overseas.

Talk to your carer or case worker about specific things that you might want to do.

Support people for you while in care

Your case worker is the person you will see and speak to the most. This is someone who works for the Department and who has special responsibility for you – making sure you are safe and well looked after and that your needs are being met.

Your case worker works in a team with other people in a district office. They have a Team Leader who is their manager. The person who is in charge of the whole district office is called the District Director. You might want to know the names of the Team Leader and District Director as they help to make decisions about you while you are in care, and you can talk to them if you want to. Ask your case worker for their names.

Who else might you meet while you're in care?

There are other people you might meet. They all want to support and help you, and make sure that you are safe. Some examples are:

  • Education officer: This person works in the district office with your case worker, and can be involved if you need help with your school and further education.
  • Psychologist: This person also works in the district office with your case worker, and can be involved if there is a problem you have that is worrying or upsetting you.
  • Aboriginal worker: If you are an Aboriginal person, you will probably have contact with a specialist Aboriginal worker, who will help to keep you in touch with your culture and your people.
  • Crisis Care worker: This person works in the Department's 24-hour Crisis Care Unit. You may have contact with them if there is an emergency or if you need help when your district office is closed.

Access to information (case files/records)

If you are, or have been in the care of the Department of Communities (formerly the Department of Child Protection and Family Support), you have the right to get information about your time in care. Information written about you in your case file is called a record. Records can include information about your childhood, your family, why you were in care, your foster carer and other matters connected to your time in care.

See the Freedom of Information page for more information.

Supporting children and young people in care

The CREATE Foundation is a community organisation that offers programs and activities for children and young people in care aged from 5 to 25 years.

For more information about CREATE and the ways that they support children and young people in care, visit CREATE's website  or phone them on 1800 655 105.

Page reviewed 2 November 2021