Premier Weatherill Announces New Department For Child Protection

Premier Weatherill Announces New Department For Child Protection

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill

New Child Safety Laws Part Of $432 Million Response To Nyland Royal Commission

Victor P Taffa

Weatherill Government will invest $432 Million to deliver a new child protection system for South Australia and has tabled new child safety legislation in response to the Nyland Royal Commission.

“The Child Protection Systems Royal Commission has given us a strong foundation to deliver a fresh start for child protection.” Premier Jay Weatherill said.

Delivering its response to the Commission’s final report today in State Parliament, the Government confirmed that following significant consultation with the community sector it has accepted 196 of the recommendations, agreed in principle with a further 60 and chosen not to adopt four.

“We have already taken some significant steps in our response including the establishment of the new Department for Child Protection, however the cultural change required will not happen overnight.” Premier Weatherill said.

 

With one in four children in the State being the subject of a notification to authorities, Premier Jay Weatherill today emphasised that child protection must be everyone’s responsibility.

Historic reforms announced today will:

  • CREATE a new child protection system which is better targeted at prevention and early intervention
  • ESTABLISH a new Early Intervention Research Directorate to develop new strategies to better support vulnerable families and to ensure programs are effective, including a specific focus on Aboriginal children and families
  • ENHANCE efforts to place children with family members earlier through a new Family Scoping Unit, avoiding the need for use of residential and commercial care
  • PROVIDE increased support and training opportunities for staff to help them deal with the many complex cases they encounter
  • EMBED a greater role for the non-government and community sector in guiding and overseeing all reforms through the establishment of a Child Safety and Wellbeing Advisory Panel, with further details to be announced soon
  • TRIAL a new multi-agency Child Safety Pathway to address notification waiting times on the Child Abuse Report Line, linking families to the right supports
  • IMPROVE the rights and experiences of family and foster carers, with supports to help them interact with governments, ensure their voices are better heard in court, and to support their day-to-day decision making
  • ENSURE that Aboriginal families are involved in early decision making through Family Group Conferencing within the new child protection laws

Following consultation and further work, the Government has chosen not to accept recommendations 14, 26, 102 and 174.

A new Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 has been released today for comment, with consultation occurring over the summer months before Parliament resumes in 2017.

“The Bill being tabled today recognises and acknowledging the importance of children and young people to our State, and the desire for children and young people to grow up safe, supported, and given every opportunity to thrive.” Minister for Child Protection Reform John Rau said.

Weatherill Government will provide its next progress report on the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations before 30 June next year, with further progress reports to be made annually.

“Commissioner Nyland suggests we take time to consider this legislation, we will not rush it through. I am asking everyone to consider this consultation draft over the summer months, so we can proceed with the Bill in the autumn session of 2017.” Mr. Rau said.

Draft Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 is open for comment until Friday 27 January 2017.

“The Bill also improves the process of legal representation for children, removes unnecessary barriers for carers wanting to obtain long-term guardianship and makes provisions to support young people up to the age of 25.” Mr. Rau said.

“Reducing the number of children in commercial care including emergency care  is a clear priority as we move forward.” Minister for Education and Child Development Susan Close said.

 

Background

Government’s commitment of $432 Million over four years for state wide child protection reform and additional support for children in out of home care includes:

  • $299 Million for additional staff, resources and new initiatives in out of home care
  • An additional $45 Million for early intervention programs and services, including:
  • Establishment of an Early Intervention Research Directorate
  • Funding for the Family by Family program
  • $9 Million to establish 3 pilot Child and Family Assessment and Referral Networks in Northern, Central, and Southern metropolitan Adelaide
  • A further $5 Million p.a. for early intervention programs and services
  • $26 Million to improve the Government’s investigations and response capabilities, including an additional $10 Million for professional development and training of Department for Child Protection staff.
  • $6 Million to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • $6 Million to establish a Child Protection Service at the Lyell McEwin Hospital
  • $13 Million to improve the Child Abuse Report Line
  • An additional $10.8 Million for support for young people transitioning from care

Final report of the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission was delivered to the Governor in August 2016.

In line with the recommendations of the Royal Commissioner, the Government acted immediately on some recommendations.

On 1 November, a new Department for Child Protection was established.

Children and Young People (Oversight and Advocacy Bodies) Act 2016 and the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 were passed by Parliament establishing a Commissioner for Children and Young People and improving the screening process for people working with children.

A third Bill, the Public Sector (Data Sharing) Bill 2016, has been introduced to Parliament.