In February 2015, the Northern Territory Government introduced Permanent Care Orders (PCOs) as an amendment to the Care and Protection of Children Act.
A Permanent Care Order is an order made by the Court which grants a person parental responsibility for a child until that child turns 18 years of age. These kinds of orders exist in most other Australian jurisdictions and provide an additional option for the court in determining the best interests of children in care and promoting permanency and stability for children in care.
Once a PCO is granted, the person to whom the order is granted assumes the responsibility for all the decisions relating to the child, in the same way that a parent would, and without the involvement of the Department of Children and Families.
In order for a PCO to be granted, the court must be satisfied that it is in the child’s best interests. Applications to the court are made by the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Children and Families and include an assessment of the prospective carer and consent from the child, where this is possible. Only children who are currently on long term orders and where reunification is not an option can be considered for a PCO.
To learn more about PCOs please refer to the below resources: