Child protection to start in the womb

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – Cabinet has signed off on important changes to the Care and Protection of Children Act (the Act). Due to the urgency for some of the changes, legislation will be introduced through a staged process with the overall reforms to the Act expected to be introduced in to the Legislative Assembly early next year.

 

Some of the key areas of reform are:-

• Enabling of pre-natal notifications and investigations.

• A standalone Children’s Commissioner Act which will increase the independence of the office, and accountability of the child protection system.

• The introduction of therapeutic orders to enable the admission of some children with high needs into a secure care facility.

• A refining of short term orders to better facilitate reunification to family.

• The introduction of an enduring parental responsibility order, which would transfer parental responsibility to a career when attempts at reunification with parents have failed.

• Strengthened privacy protections for notifiers and children in care.

• Refining the role of legal representation of children in the system to ensure their voice is heard.

 

Other changes relating to protection orders and enduring parental responsibility orders will be subject to extensive consultation and I encourage all stakeholders to participate in the consultation phase.

 

Children’s Commissioner, Howard Bath, will have his powers enshrined into a standalone act to increase the level independence and also include a wider range of investigation powers, this is in line with other jurisdictions.

 

The issue of child protection is a sensitive one, and I know that we all have the best interests of children at heart. So when these Bills are introduced into Parliament I hope to have cooperation from across the floor to get some real results for our most vulnerable children.

 

Alison Anderson

Minister for Children and Families (pictured)

 

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