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Glossary of child safety terms

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Glossary of child safety terms

CAO Court Assessment Order
CCR Child Concern Report
COC Court Ordered Conference
CPA Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld)
CPIU Child Protection Investigation Unit, Queensland Police Service
CSO Child Safety Officer
CSS Child Safety Services (provided by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women)
CSSC Child Safety Service Centre


Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women
DCPL Director of Child Protection Litigation
FGM Family Group Meeting
FIS Family Intervention Service
I & A Investigation and Assessment
IPA Intervention with Parental Agreement
LTG Long-term Guardianship
OCFOS Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor
QCAT Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
SDM Structured Decision Making
STC Short-term Custody
TAO Temporary Assessment Order
TCO Temporary Custody Order


Here are the meanings of some tricky words, in order of A–Z.

Delaying a hearing or mention of a case in court for a certain amount of time. There are lots of reasons these happen but often it is because the parents and Child Safety Services cannot agree on what the next step is or because they do not have all the information they want to give to the court before it makes a decision.

Adoption legally gives the rights and responsibilities of parenting to another person – an ‘adoptive’ parent. If this happens, then the child is ‘adopted’, and they live with a new family. This means there is no legal relationship between a child and their birth parent (or their extended family) anymore.

An affidavit (pronounced affy-dave-it) is a statement someone swears to be true, normally by signing it in front of a professional person called a Justice of the Peace.

A case plan is a written plan for your protection and care needs. It is developed in a Family Group Meeting between Child Safety Services, you, your family and other people significant to you.

It records the goals and outcomes of ongoing intervention and includes the agreed tasks that will need to occur to meet the goal and outcomes.

A Child Safety Officer works for Child Safety Services and will work directly with you, your family and carer to help make sure you are cared for, safe and well.

By law, contact means somebody speaking with, seeing or writing to you, including through emails and social media such as Facebook. Contact could be in any location and might happen with another adult, such as a Child Safety Officer, being there.

Court-ordered conferences (COC) are meetings held when someone doesn’t agree with Child Safety Services about the need for a Child Protection Order.

An independent chairperson runs the meeting, aiming to get everyone to agree to an outcome.

The meeting might ask questions like:

  • What are we worried about?
  • What is working well?
  • What more needs to happen?

Usually, a court-ordered conference will be held before the court makes a decision, unless the court is worried someone may not be safe at a meeting. There might be more than one court-ordered conference while the issue is being heard.

A recognised entity will be present at a court-ordered conference to support the cultural needs and safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

The right and responsibility to care for and make decisions about the day-to-day needs of a child. (For example, this could include how much television you watch, or which friends you can hang out with and where.)

This is a free service to help families in need of support. Family and Child Connect (FACC) works with government and non-government services within the community to help families get the right services at the right time.

A Family Group Meeting (FGM) helps your family to develop or change a case plan, which is the main plan to explain what should be done to help keep you safe. You can go to the meeting, along with members of your family, your Community Visitor or Child Advocate and staff from Child Safety Services. There will be a convenor, who runs the meeting and makes sure everything is prepared in advance.

If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, an Independent Person can also come along to ensure your culture is respected. 

Just because a person goes to a Family Group Meeting or agrees to help develop a case plan, doesn’t mean they did anything wrong. However, the things people say in Family Group Meetings may be heard by the court, to help the court make decisions.

The legal responsibility for making decisions about the long-term care, wellbeing and development of a child or young person. This includes decisions about things like medical procedures and enrolment in school. Your parents will remain your guardians until a court orders another person or Child Safety Services to be your guardian.

The Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS) helps vulnerable families in complex situations build their ability to care for and protect their children.

If a court adjourns (delays) a hearing, it can make an interim order to make sure you are looked after properly in the meantime. (‘Interim’ means ‘in the meantime’.)

  • An interim order made on adjournment of a court assessment order may grant temporary custody to the Chief Executive, or your parents.
  • An interim child protection order made on adjournment of a child protection order can grant custody to a family member or the Chief Executive.

A placement is the place where you live when you can’t live at home with your parents.

An Independent Person is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person or a group who knows about protecting children, your community or you, but is separate to Child Safety Services.

A social assessment report includes all types of information about you - like your history, where you live and the views and wishes you discussed in previous interviews. The social assessment report also includes information and reports from Child Safety Services and includes an independent opinion on the best way to protect your best interests.

(Pronounced sub-peener): A subpoena is an order to give information to a court.