Family Responsibility Agreement and Family Responsibility Order

Family Responsibility Agreement

When parents, carers or responsible adults need help to address the problem behaviours of a young person in their care, a Family Responsibility Agreement can be considered. The intent of a Family Responsibility Agreement is to assist parents or carers to appropriately support young people to change their behaviour.

Family Responsibility Agreements are collaborative, voluntary agreements between Territory Families, Housing and Communities (TFHC) and the parents and carers of at-risk young people. They are a case management tool to identify behaviours of concern and establish clear objectives, and identify parent commitments, agreed actions and the support required.

Family Responsibility Agreements may be supported by existing child protection case plans, youth justice support plans and youth justice conferencing agreements, in cases where they already are in place.

Family Responsibility Agreements are designed to increase parental responsibility for the actions that have led to children being at-risk and displaying behaviours of concern.

TFHC, other government departments and specialist support service providers will work with families to assist them to meet the obligations of their agreements and to help families succeed. The agreements are reviewed and adjusted or ended as required.

A Family Responsibility Agreement is voluntary

Family Responsibility Agreements are not legally enforceable and are entered into on a voluntary basis. TFHC and other services will work with families to build parenting skills, improve their family situations, and make positive changes in the young person’s behaviour.

What is in the agreement?

Family Responsibility Agreements address the needs of individual families. They can require parents and carers to:

  • Attend counselling or therapy to address mental health issues and build parenting skills.
  • Participate in community support groups or programs to learn from shared experiences.
  • Be responsible for the care and appropriate supervision of their children and young people, including making sure they are home at night.
  • Actively support their young person to attend school, get involved in positive activities and build healthy friendships and safe relationships.

Who authorises Family Responsibility Agreements?

Caseworkers from TFHC’s Youth Justice Division will work with families to put agreements in place. Caseworkers are authorised under the Youth Justice Act 2005 to enter into a Family Responsibility Agreement, which commit a family and TFHC to plans and actions listed in the agreement.

Can this agreement be changed by someone else?

If a young person is charged with an offence and the Youth Justice Court makes a court order in relation to them, this may change the agreement because the conditions outlined can no longer occur due to the order. If this is the case, some specified conditions will not need to occur while the court order is in place.

How long will the agreement be in place?

A Family Responsibility Agreement remains in place for the time stated in the agreement but it cannot exceed 12 months nor go beyond the young person’s 18th birthday.

Families can choose not to participate

  • Participation in an agreement is voluntary.
  • Families can withdraw from an agreement at any time by notifying TFHC that they are no longer willing or able to follow the agreement. Families can do this by talking to a TFHC, or by writing to:
    Territory Families, Housing and Communities
    PO Box 37037
  • TFHC will talk with the family about their decision to make sure they understand what will happen next. TFHC will offer support to help the family to keep things on track, but if the family does not wish continue with the agreement, TFHC will ask them to sign a statement saying they are no longer willing or able to follow the agreement.

What happens if a family withdraws from a Family Responsibility Agreement?

If a family decides to withdraw from an agreement before the end date, or if they do not do what they have agreed to do, TFHC will make reasonable efforts to assist them to stay on track so that the agreement can work.

If the Family Responsibility Agreement does not work and the young person’s problem behaviours continue, TFHC may make an application to the Youth Justice Court for an inquiry into the family’s circumstances. The inquiry will determine if a Family Responsibility Order should be made. TFHC will talk with the family before this action is taken to explain why this decision is being made and what will happen at Court.

Family Responsibility Order

A Family Responsibility Order may have similar actions and conditions to a Family Responsibility Agreement but it can have new actions or conditions added.

Family Responsibility Orders may be considered when:

  • A Family Responsibility Agreement has been entered into but the young person has continued to exhibit behavioural problems.
  • The family has declined to enter into a Family Responsibility Agreement.
  • The family has entered into a Family Responsibility Agreement but has not met the agreed conditions to support their child.

Failure to comply with an order is an offence

It is an offence not to comply with a Family Responsibility Order.

You can be fined if you do not follow the conditions in the Order up to a maximum of 20 penalty units ($3,160).

If you do not pay the fine, you may be directed to undertake a Community Work Order or have non-essential items confiscated from you to the value of the fine.