Under these two statutes, „protected information“ can only be collected and transmitted within the meaning of the law, unless they are specific regulatory exceptions (section 150  and [2a] of Act 1989 and Section 16  and [2a] Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988). Consultations for this study showed that the distinction between the child welfare system and the broader group of „vulnerable“ children and families is not as clear in some states and territories. For example, an NGO representative from Victoria also felt that some „vulnerable“ families in Victoria were in the child welfare system. This reflects the Victorian model in which „Child Wellbeing“ reports can be distributed to NGOs for evaluation. In this model, NGOs can have access to client information in order to conduct assessments, which is why this interested party felt that these families should be included in the definition of „families and children in the child welfare system.“ This example also highlights the need to continue to support information-sharing initiatives for families and children within the framework of the child welfare system through broader initiatives focused on the „at-risk“ group. Services then determine whether a notification requires an investigation or is better handled by other means, such as referral to other organizations or family support services. (In Queensland, however, all reports must be reviewed). When an investigation is conducted, the result may be a justification, which means that the investigating authority concludes that the child has been abused, neglected or otherwise harmed, or that he or she is likely to be injured. Justifications may (but not always) lead to a child being placed in a custody and protection order or out-of-home care.
In some legal systems, children may also be placed in custody and protection orders for other reasons, or in marginal and out-of-home child care. (AIHW 2008, S.ix) There are serious problems with these overlaps between the two systems (see Box 4). Family courts do not have an independent judicial capacity because they operate in a private law context and the various parties are responsible for the conduct and costs of the litigation, unless they receive legal support (see Figure 1). However, child protection issues in family law cases cannot reach the threshold of state or territory intervention in a context where resource constraints mean that more serious notifications are a priority for the investigation. In addition, investigations conducted in the context of child protection justice answer the question of whether the child is safe, whether the child remains safe, or whether the best interests of the child are served by a certain pattern of time spent with each parent. Service members can take the affected family members to the family court to resolve issues that were clearly protective. For example, when a grandmother took care of a grandchild for the sake of her safety, it was claimed that the ministry regularly transfers such worried parents to the family… Court to validate the agreement rather than treating the case as a kinship placement. The Children`s Commissioner drew attention to these practices. (Northern Territory Child Protection System Inquiry, 2010, p.