New laws underpinning South Australia’s child protection system passed Parliament last night, improving safeguards for some of the state’s most vulnerable people.
The laws will replace the current Children’s Protection Act and reflect the government’s response to the Nyland Royal Commission recommendations which required law reform.
Importantly they enshrine in law that the paramount consideration that children and young people are protected from harm.
Under the new laws, Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor will assume guardianship of the state’s most vulnerable children - bringing South Australia into line with every other state in Australia.
The final report of the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission was released in August last year, making 260 recommendations to improve the policies, structure and culture of the state’s child protection system.
The government response to the Royal Commission, released in November last year, accepted 256 of those recommendations, and included the commitment of $432 million for statewide child protection reform and additional support for children in out of home care.
The Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2017 was tabled in November 2016, with the government filing further amendments following ongoing feedback from the community sector, including ensuring female genital mutilation is explicitly mentioned in the Act to invoke the relevant powers and functions of the Act.
The government moved amendments that give foster carers a greater voice by allowing them to seek an external review of a decision by the chief executive to remove a child from their care, and allowing the chief executive to direct people to undergo drug or alcohol assessments where there are concerns about an individual’s ability to care for a child.