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International child protection

Australia is party to the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, which came into force in Australia on 1 August 2003.

The Secretary of this department is the designated Australian Central Authority under the Child Protection Convention.

The Child Protection Convention provides for international cooperation between convention countries to recognise protective measures for children. This includes recognition and enforcement of protection measures (such as court orders) made in one convention country in other convention countries.

For more information, including a list of convention countries, visit the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children page on the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.

This page contains information on:

Aims of the Child Protection Convention

The Child Protection Convention aims to:

  • help countries recognise foreign child protection measures
  • determine the correct court to make decisions about a child and the correct laws that apply to a child protection case.

In particular, the convention helps countries to:

  • determine which country can take measures to protect a child or the property of a child (that is, a person up to the age of eighteen years)
  • determine which laws should be applied when taking measures to protect a child
  • allow for other countries to recognise and enforce child protection measures made overseas
  • take urgent measures to protect a child or a child's property
  • take measures relating to displaced or refugee children who do not have a home country
  • establish cooperation between the signatory countries to achieve these purposes.

The particular areas that protection measures under the convention can cover are:

  • changes to parental responsibility
  • rights of custody, including the right to determine the child's place of residence
  • rights of access to a child, including the right to take a child to a different country for a limited period of time
  • guardianship, curatorship and similar institutions
  • the designation and functions of a person or other body which has custody of a child or a child's property, or who represents or assists the child
  • the placement of a child in a foster family or in institutional care, or the provision of care by kafala or a similar institution
  • the supervision by a public authority of the care of a child by any person who has custody of the child
  • the administration, conservation or disposal of a child's property.

The Family Law (Child Protection Convention) Regulations 2003, made under the Family Law Act¦1975, provide processes for the following actions under the Child Protection Convention.

A 'foreign measure' includes child protection measures and child property measures.

For more information on the Child Protection Convention, contact the Australian Central Authority on 1800 100 480 or email australiancentralauthority@ag.gov.au.

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Registration of foreign child protection measures in Australia

If you have a foreign measure made in another convention country and you want it to be registered in Australia, you can contact the central authority in the country where the measure was made for help in making an application.

You can find contact details for the central authorities for the Child Protection Convention on the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.

Requests to the Australian Central Authority should include a certified copy of the court orders you want registered in Australia. If the original orders are in another language, they must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Once the Australian Central Authority under the Child Protection Convention receives an application to register a foreign measure from a convention country, we will assess it to decide whether it is covered by the Child Protection Convention. If it is covered, we may send it to a state central authority or the registrar of an Australian court so that the measure can be registered.

If the measure is registered by the court, it has the same effect in Australia as if it was an Australian measure. Once the measure is registered, an interested person may take legal proceedings in Australia to enforce the order.

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Variation or cancellation of a recognised foreign measure

If a foreign measure has been recognised in Australia by the above process, any interested person can apply to a court to vary the order or cancel the registration of the order. There are only certain circumstances in which the court may vary a foreign measure or cancel its registration.

For more information on varying or cancelling a recognised foreign measure, contact the relevant Australian family court:

Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court
Call: 1300 352 000
Email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au

Family Court of Western Australia
Call: 08 9224 8222.

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Registration of Australian child protection measures overseas

If you have an Australian child protection or child property measure that you want to have enforced in another convention country, you can apply to the registrar of the court that made the measure.

The registrar of the court can then send to the Australian Central Authority the following:

  • a certified copy of an order that is a protection measure made under the Family Law Act 1975
  • any information the court has about the whereabouts of the child
  • a written request that the order be recognised in the other convention country.

Once we receive these documents, we can send them to the central authority of the other convention country. The other country will then decide whether to register the order so that it is enforceable there.

You may also be able to send the above documents to a foreign central authority directly, or to a competent authority in a convention country. You can find contact details for the central authorities for the Child Protection Convention on the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.

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Request to vary or cancel a foreign child protection measure in a convention country

If an interested person wants to vary or cancel a foreign measure in a convention country, the Australian Central Authority can assist.

You can write to the Australian Central Authority for assistance to send a request for an authority in another convention country to vary or cancel a child protection measure that was made there.

If the Australian Central Authority receives a request, it may be sent to the central authority in the other country.

For more information, visit the Protection of Children (1996) page located on the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.

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Certificate of parental responsibility

The regulations provide a process for a person to get a court certificate stating that they have parental responsibility for a child. This may be useful, for example, if you are involved in a court proceeding relating to a child in a country, where fathers are not recognised if they were not married to the mother at the time of the birth of a child. To do this, you must apply directly to the registrar of the court.

Contact details of the Australian Family Courts:

Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court
Call: 1300 352 000
Email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au

Family Court of Western Australia
Call: 08 9224 8222

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Forms

If you are involved in a court proceeding in Australia under the Child Protection Convention, Part XIIIAA Division 4 of the Family Law Act 1975, or under the Family Law (Child Protection Convention) Regulations 2003, you may need to use special forms that are included in Schedule 3 of the 2003 Regulations.

The Child Protection Convention Regulations are available from the ComLaw website.

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