How to write a subpoena for child protection documents

Learn what to ask for to subpoena child protection documents.
Learn what to ask for to subpoena child protection documents.
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The Child Protection Subpoena Unit (we, us) processes subpoenas and witness summonses served on the department for child protection documents.

What to put in a subpoena schedule

Child Protection files can cover many years and have thousands of documents. 

You must state the documents you want us to produce in the 'subpoena schedule'. The schedule needs to be clear and specific. Asking for all documents is too broad and we may consider objecting in full.

When formulating the schedule, request only the documents you need to meet a legitimate legal purpose.

We must review each page and protect sensitive information before giving anything to the court. 

If you do not give us enough time to do this, we may advise the court that we will not or cannot meet the subpoena's requirements. 

This is called an objection.

For more information about protecting sensitive information, see the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Provide children's names

You must include the children's names and dates of birth for the records you want. We need this information to source the material you require. Please do not list adult (parent) names. Victorian child protection records are stored under children’s names only.

Ask for the most recent documents

Often, requesting documents about the most recent child protection involvement is sufficient. This will encompass summaries of past events and the most up-to-date information about the issues being contested in the court proceedings.

Ask for documents about a specific event

If you want documents about a specific event, request documents created during a specific timeframe. This will provide the court with the most relevant material.

Ask for specific types of documents

In courts other than the Children’s Court, the following documents will provide a comprehensive overview of protective concerns and the department's response: 

  • final intake and closure documents
  • first visit case notes
  • responsible for harm assessments
  • transfer summaries
  • best interest case plans
  • case planning and meeting minutes
  • court reports
  • Section 38 consultations
  • any external assessment reports that the department has commissioned.

Limiting your request to these documents will prevent us from objecting on the grounds of oppression. It also often speeds up how long it takes us to produce the documents you want.

Fees and timeframes for subpoenas
Learn how much time you need to give us to produce the documents in your subpoena and the fees (conduct money) we charge for this service.

Serve a subpoena for child protection documents

To serve a subpoena for child protection documents, email childprotectionsubpoenaunit@dffh.vic.gov.au

You must do this on the day the subpoena and accompanying documentation are filed in court.

Post the conduct money and the documentation to:

The Proper Officer
Child Protection Subpoena Unit
Department of Families, Fairness and Housing
GPO Box 4672
Melbourne VIC 3001

You cannot serve a subpoena by attending the office of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Contact the Child Protection Subpoena Unit

Phone: 1300 703 779
Email: childprotectionsubpoenaunit@dffh.vic.gov.au  

Viewing subpoenaed material

The documents or material in a subpoena can only be released to the court.

To view subpoena material, you must apply to the court. Ask the court registrar or your legal representative how to do this.