Advocacy win ~ birth registrations!

In response to ongoing advocacy from the Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV), the Department of Families Fairness and Housing (DFFH) has developed new birth registration and birth certificate acquisition performance standards which will mean that no child in care will be without a birth certificate. DFFH will now require all children in care to have a birth certificate on file.

The FCAV has had a priority advocacy focus on birth registrations because having an identity document is a fundamental human right and a requirement for participating in 21st century society. From a carer perspective, the failure to register a birth can have a significant impact on a care placement because it can prevent access to essential services such as childcare, kindergarten and Medicare. It can also prevent carers from opening bank accounts and getting a passport.

To advocate on this issue the FCAV launched a social media campaign to get cases of children without a registered birth. With the help of both Agencies and carers the FCAV collected a range of cases and forwarded those to DFFH for action. In response to FCAV advocacy DFFH addressed individual cases and used those cases to develop new birth registration and birth certificate acquisition processes in consultation with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM).

Key features of the new arrangements include the following:

  • DFFH has confirmed that it has the power to register the birth of all children in out of home care regardless of the type of court order;
  • Child protection will automatically request a copy of a birth certificate for all children who have been in care for longer than 21 days within the next 30 days;
  • Where a birth has not been registered DFFH will work with parents to register a birth; and
  • Where parental cooperation is not provided DFFH will proceed independently to register the birth.

The new DFFH policy represents a significant step forward. Under previous arrangements Child Protection was of the view that they only had the power to register a birth without parental permission if they had both custody and guardianship.

Following discussions with BDM it has now been confirmed that Child Protection can register the birth of any child in out of home care.

The FCAV will continue to monitor the process. Please call the FCAV or email r.pulford@fcav.org.au if you have a birth registration issue for the child/ren in your care. 
The changes are detailed in the child protection manual which can be accessed at:
Registering a child’s birth - procedure | Child Protection Manual (cpmanual.vic.gov.au)