Referral to the Panel

The Suitability Panel ensures the wellbeing and safety of children in out-of-home care.

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When the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing receives a report, the department’s Secretary decides if there should be an independent investigation. An independent investigator will carry out the investigation.

The investigator will report what they find to the Secretary. The Secretary then decides whether to refer the matter to the Suitability Panel.

If the matter goes to the Panel, there will be a hearing. The chairperson and 2 other Panel members must sit on a hearing.

At the hearing, the Panel will decide if the allegation can be proved on the balance of probabilities.

balance of probabilities – level of proof needed in civil law cases to decide which version of events is more likely than not to have happened.

The Panel considers all:

  • allegations against the carer that the Secretary presents
  • evidence presented to the Panel by any of the parties involved. The evidence could come from the carer, the carer's employer or witnesses.
  • matters that the Panel considers relevant to its determination.

In deciding whether an allegation is proved, the Panel does not consider any other allegations or findings of misconduct against the person.

Findings

The Panel’s findings are made on the balance of probabilities.

Misconduct

If the Panel finds that the alleged abuse occurred, it may make a finding of misconduct.

No misconduct

The Panel will terminate the proceedings if no misconduct is found.

Disqualification

If the Panel makes a finding of misconduct, they will decide if the person poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children.

If the Panel finds the person poses an unacceptable risk to children, the person will be disqualified as a carer.

Updated