Assessment orders

What is an assessment order?

An assessment order is granted by a court to obtain an independent assessment that will enable the court to reach an informed decision about the needs of the child or young person, to facilitate decisions about permanency planning.

Under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 the assessment order could be for an assessment of a child or young person (s.53)* or to assess the capacity of a person with parental responsibility or who is seeking parental responsibility for a child or young person (s.54).

* Reference to sections of the Act (e.g. s.53) refers to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 unless otherwise specified. Check the Act for the precise meaning.

Who can apply? 

To obtain a clinic assessment, any party to a care application (s.55) may complete the 'Application to the Children's Court for Assessment Order' form and present it to the court.

When considering whether to make an assessment order, the court will take into account whether the proposed assessment is necessary, whether the information sought can be obtained elsewhere, and whether the assessment will produce any unnecessary distress to the child or young person.

The Children’s Court Clinic does not undertake physical, medical or emergency assessments. These are best done by specialist medical practitioners.

When the court makes an assessment order it will usually appoint the Children’s Court Clinic to conduct the assessment and submit the required report.

Who completes assessments for the Children’s Court?

The Children’s Court Clinic provides independent assessments of children, young persons and their families to the Children’s Court. The clinic was established pursuant to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (The Act), and located as part of the NSW Attorney General’s Department to ensure its independence.

The Children’s Court Clinic employs and contracts a number of experienced psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers as Authorised Clinicians. They are experts in their fields and adhere to the Uniform Civil Procedures Rules 2005, Schedule 7 Expert Witness Code of Conduct.

Authorised Clinicians:

  • Provide independent assessments of clients, addressing the questions or concerns of the court.
  • Prepare assessment reports for the court that include recommendations in accordance with the objects, principles, and responsibilities outlined in the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998.
  • Consider any aspects of culture, disability, language, religion and sexuality of the child or young person when conducting assessments s.9(c).
  • Recognise that self-determination is a fundamental principle in our work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, (s.11).
  • Participate in conferences as requested by the court.
  • Attend court when requested by the magistrate or judge (e.g., for cross-examination to allow parties to test the accuracy or applicability of the report).

As well as face-to-face assessments, the clinic is able to conduct file reviews of multiple or conflicting assessments in order to assist the court in making an interpretation of the available facts.

Authorised Clinicians have a small amount of time to conduct these assessments, and need to be given well-justified, clear, relevant and succinct issues to address.

Last updated Friday 23rd February 2024