Communities and Justice

Panel of Independent Assessors

The panel of Independent Assessors was established in 2018 to help caseworkers determine the best permanency pathway for a child in Out Of Home Care.

The Independent Assessors on the panel have different areas of expertise and geographical coverage. For more information, see the DCJ Independent Assessors Panel for Restoration, Guardianship and Adoption Permanency assessments (XLSX, 82.3 KB).


These questions and answers have been prepared to assist you in understanding:

  • The panel deed arrangement with Independent Assessors
  • How Independent Assessors are selected for the panel
  • What Independent Assessors do; and
  • How you can access an Independent Assessor

Why do we need a panel of Independent Assessors?

Independent Assessors provide a vital resource for DCJ and PSP providers, enabling caseworkers to  progress permanency plans for children who have come in contact with the child protection system. Independent Assessors provide an independent view and can help caseworkers determine the best permanency option for a child. The panel system is a flexible and independent way to seek advice and operates on a fee for service basis. DCJ monitor assessor quality, availability and cultural competence, and acts on any supply gaps to better meet children’s needs.

What do Independent Assessors do?

An Independent Assessor is commissioned to undertake impartial, high quality assessments about the quality of relationships a child is developing with their caregivers. The assessment is designed to assess the suitability of each of the permanency pathways available to the child, and to make recommendations about permanency case plan goals.

Independent Assessors play a significant role in engaging with family members and other significant people in the child’s life, to positively influence permanency case planning.

Depending on the qualifications and background of each independent assessor, the assessments they may undertake include:

  • Carer authorisations, reviews and assessments
  • Restoration viability assessments
  • Guardianship assessments
  • Open Adoption assessments and Adoption plans (including non-OOHC adoptions)

The Independent Assessors on the panel have different areas of expertise and geographical coverage. For more information, see the list of Independent Assessors (XLSX, 82.3 KB).

How were Independent Assessors selected for the panel?

Independent Assessors were selected via a rigorous, two-stage procurement process led by a DCJ evaluation committee comprising of representatives from Child & Family, Open Adoption Permanency Services and Procurement.

The committee evaluated applications based on:

  • qualifications, training and accreditations
  • practical experience in achieving permanency outcomes for children
  • ability to collaborate with both DCJ and PSP providers
  • capacity to build relationships with parents, prospective guardians and adoptive parents
  • examples of clear, insightful and evidence-based work, court reports and casework
  • proactivity and organisation.

How can I access an Independent Assessor?

To access an Independent Assessor, first view the list of Independent Assessors (XLSX, 82.3 KB).

The list provides information about each Independent Assessor’s area of expertise and service coverage. Once you have identified one or more suitable assessors, the DCJ or PSP provider case managing the care of the child can contact them to discuss:

  • the complexity of your referral
  • any cultural and linguistic considerations for your referral
  • the geographical location of the referral and the assessor’s capacity to travel if required
  • the assessor’s availability to accept the referral and complete the required work during the identified timeframe
  • the assessor’s completion of any required DCJ training (such as adoption training)
  • the estimated time and cost for the assessor to complete the work required under as part of your referral.

DCJ staff can access templates on the DCJ intranet to help scope the referral and obtain an estimation of time and cost from the Independent Assessor at DCJ staff templates.

Where can I find out more about an Independent Assessor’s background and expertise?

Permanency decisions for children in OOHC are important. It is important that suitably qualified people are helping caseworkers make those decisions. As part of the procurement process, assessors provided their resumes and outlined their qualifications and professional experience. You can ask an Independent Assessor for this information if you are interested.

How do I find an Independent Assessor with Aboriginal cultural competence or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) expertise?

Please discuss your preference for specific cultural competence directly with your shortlisted Assessor/s as part of your selection process.

Can PSP providers access Independent Assessors?

Yes. Independent Assessor panel members have agreed that their contact information can be made available to both DCJ and PSP providers.

Service providers may freely use the panel to contract an Independent Assessor. However, DCJ disclaims any legal liability or otherwise regarding a service provider’s decision to use a particular Independent Assessor.

Can I only use Independent Assessors from the panel?

Given the rigour involved in establishing a panel of high quality Independent Assessors, DCJ districts should always allocate independent assessment work to panel members.

In instances where there are no suitable or available panellists in a particular area, try to identify an Independent Assessor from another location who is willing and available to travel.

In instances where no locally available or culturally suitable Independent Assessor from the panel can be identified, the Director Adoption Services (for adoption matters), or Director Community Services or Operations (or their delegate) can approve engagement of an Independent Assessor outside of the panel.

In these cases, you should inform the panel secretariat at to guide expansion of the panel in areas of need.

How is the panel’s quality and performance monitored?

All Independent Assessors on the panel are required to meet performance requirements about delivering a quality service, on time. These requirements are set out in the service level agreement outlined in the panel deed.

We’ll use feedback gained through referrals and periodic surveys about timeliness, the standard of service, quality, cost, and communication to support continuous improvement among panel members. This information will also help to select Independent Assessors for future referrals and to identify training needs.

A Secretariat and Steering Committee has been established to monitor the operation of the panel and act if any performance issues are identified.

An Independent Assessors peer-to-peer network has also been established to provide mutual support and share learning.

How can I provide feedback on an Independent Assessor?

In the first instance, you should discuss any issue with the relevant Independent Assessor directly.

The service level agreement outlined in the panel deed includes performance expectations about responding to and reporting on these kinds of discussions.

If direct discussion fails to resolve a concern or complaint, you can raise the issue through your caseworker, Manager Casework, or to the Contract Manager (in Statewide Contracts, Partnerships) by emailing

I am an Independent Assessor - How can I provide feedback to DCJ?

We value your feedback on the DCJ policies, procedures and communication that support you in the assessment work you do. It can help us improve our services to children in the child protection system and the way we work with you.

If you have a complaint, feedback or idea that you would like to tell us about, please speak to the caseworker who has contracted your service or contact the Independent Assessor Contract Team.

How do I raise or resolve an issue relating to a specific assessment matter?

Wherever possible it is best to raise your concerns on a case by case basis with the caseworker who has contracted your services. They are in the best position to resolve any immediate concerns you may have, or to refer your complaint to the relevant area.

It is encouraged to resolve concerns at the local level and follow DCJ district or PSP provider processes.

For general matters, ask to speak directly to the Manager, Casework. If the Manager Casework is unable to resolve your concerns you can ask for the issue to be referred to the Manager Client Services.

For open adoption matter, if your matter remains unresolved after speaking with the Casework team, you can forward the matter to the Open Adoptions and Permanency Team via the mailbox at

For a guardianship matter, if the matter remains unresolved after using local processes, you can contact the guardianship and open adoption team for advice on other avenues to resolve your concerns at

If you have any outstanding concerns, you can refer the matter to the Independent Assessor Contracting team at

Confidentiality and privacy

DCJ is committed to handling issues and complaints in a way that respects people’s privacy and the confidentiality of the matter. The only people who will have access to information about your complaint are those who are working on resolving it.

If you have any concerns about the confidentiality of your complaint, please tell the person who is handling it.

The DCJ complaint handling policy is also available online.

How can new Independent Assessors join the panel?

The panel of Independent Assessors panel is an 'open panel', meaning that from time to time, based on any known gaps or shortages, we'll open it for new applications.

Please send any questions about the applying to be an Independent Assessor with DCJ to

See also

Last updated:

26 Mar 2024