Applying for a Passport

Information sourced from Child Protection Manual (updated advice) & Australian Passport Offices- Child Welfare or Protective Agencies – A guide to lodging passport applications.

 

Applying for a passport for your foster/permanent care child can be an overwhelming process. There seem to be so many processes and competing State and Commonwealth legislation makes it hard to know exactly what is required and by whom.

 

Under the Australian Passports Act 2005 (APA), the written consent of all people with parental responsibility for a child (anyone under 18 years who has never married) is needed before a passport will be issued, unless ‘special circumstances’ exist or a court order made under the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA) states otherwise.

 

This means, despite a Children’s Court order granting exclusive responsibility to the Secretary or Permanent Care parents, under the APA, the parents of a child retain residual ‘parental responsibilities' (unless the protection order is registered in the Family Court of Australia). As stated however, under the ‘special circumstances’ provision of the APA, a person with exclusive parental responsibility for the child (The Secretary, DHHS or the Permanent Care parent/s) is able to apply for a passport for the child and it may be issued, even if a biological parent does not consent.

 

The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 Court Orders that affect parental responsibility include:

•             Family Reunification Order

•             Care by Secretary Order

•             Long-term Care Order

•             Permanent Care Order

In all cases however, where a child is subject to a protection order and is possibly going to travel interstate or overseas, practitioners need to assess whether this travel is in the child's best interest and poses any possible risks to the child, as well as consideration to the impact on the child’s Case Plan and possible permanency objective.

 

How long does it take to have a passport issued?

The first thing to note is that the process of applying for a passport and having it approved and finally issued, can take many months. Therefore, ideally, any travel should not be booked or paid for until the passport is actually issued. Asking for assistance from you DHHS case manager and/or agency case manager is important, as there are many supporting documents required (copies of Court Orders, Birth Certificates, Proof of Citizenship) and any errors in the application will result in it being sent back, ultimately delaying the process further.

 

Who is the Applicant and who may sign a Form B10?

The ‘applicant’ for passports for children on Protective Orders, where parental responsibility has been delegated (except for Permanent Care), is the DHHS.

The passport application must therefore be signed by a Ministers delegate, usually at the level of the Operations Manager or above, in the Region. The delegates consent is given by the declaration contained on Form B10.

Organisations operating under a placement agreement (Foster care Agencies) do not have parental responsibility and cannot be the applicants.

Where children have been permanently placed, the Permanent Carers are the applicants (via the ‘special circumstances’ section of the application). However it is important to note that even though they have parental responsibility and are the applicants, they are still required to select the ‘NO’ option when responding to the question asking if they are the parents of the child. Again, even though permanent carers are given full parental responsibility by virtue of the Children’s Court Order, Commonwealth legislation (which dictates Passports and Family Law processes), allows for the biological parents to retain parental responsibility regardless of an order of permanency being made. 

 

When is parental consent required and for which Orders?

Consent from the person with parental responsibility for the child is required before any travel can occur. However, parental consent should be sought in all cases, where possible.

*Family Preservation Order:

Parents retain parental responsibility for their children and their consent is required for any interstate or international travel.

*Family Reunification Order:

The Secretary has parental responsibility for the child, but not to the exclusion of all others. The consent of parents and the Department is required.

*Care by Secretary Order and Long Term Order:

The Secretary has parental responsibility for the child, to the exclusion of all others, and is able to consent to interstate and international travel.

*Interim Accommodation Order (IAO):

It is not appropriate for a child subject to an IAO to travel interstate or overseas unless this is a condition of the IAO or every party gives consent. As an IAO will state where and with whom the child is to reside during the term of the order, it may be necessary to make an application to the court to vary the conditions, if interstate or overseas travel is being considered. If the travel is considered to be in the child's best interests and the parents refuse to provide consent an application should be made to the court for a new IAO or to vary the conditions.

 

Does the child have evidence of Australian Citizenship?

Evidence of Australian Citizenship can be either parents full birth certificate (born before 20 August 1986), Australian passport (valid for at least 2 years at the time of the child’s birth) or an Australian Citizenship certificate issued to the parent (before the child’s birth) or to the child directly.

If the child’s parent was born after 20 August 1986 evidence of one of their parents (child’s grandparents) Australian Citizenship must be presented.

Where the child and the relevant Child Welfare Agency do not have access to the parents’ documents, a request can be made to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for evidence of this, using a Form 119. A statutory declaration is often required to accompany this.

If the child is Indigenous it is suggested the Passport Office be contacted directly to obtain advice.

 

Further information can be found at:

www.cpmanual.vic.gov.au/policies-and-procedures/out-home-care/passports or www.passports.gov.au

Alternatively, carers are welcome to contact FCAV’s Carer Information and Support Service on (03) 9416 4292