27 September 2023

Laws to change to protect children

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The Children and Community Services Amendment Act 2021, aimed at better protecting children from abuse and neglect, is now in effect.

The Amendment Act delivers on recommendations made in the landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and has a particular focus on strengthening connection to family, culture and country for Aboriginal children in care.

In a statement, the Department of Communities said key amendments included changes to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle to prioritise placements in closer proximity to the child’s community if placement with family or an Aboriginal person in the child’s community could not be achieved.

“There are also stronger requirements to consult with Aboriginal people and Aboriginal representative organisations when making decisions about where an Aboriginal child should live,” the Department said.

“There is a requirement for the Department to provide the Children’s Court with clear documentation about how an Aboriginal child’s connection to family and culture will be supported.”

Minister for Child Protection, Simone McGurk said the reforms complemented the Government’s $114 million boost to the child protection system and provided practical and tangible steps to better protect vulnerable children from harm.

“We are continuing to deliver on our commitment to work closely with Aboriginal people to ensure they are at the centre of decisions that impact their children, families and communities,” Ms McGurk said.

“Significantly, the expansion of mandatory reporting laws sends a clear message that child safety comes first — and for perpetrators, that there is nowhere to hide.”

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