26 September 2023

New child protection charter to help families

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Canberra families embroiled with the Territory’s child protection system are to be better supported and more involved with decisions following the release of a new charter.

Launching the Charter for Parents and Families involved with ACT child protection services, the Community Services Directorate said the Charter set out a shared understanding between families and child protection staff, and what everyone could expect when working together.

“This will support positive and respectful ways of working together to enable the best outcomes for children and young people and their families,” the Directorate said.

“We know it can be hard for parents and families to be involved with the child protection system,” it said.

“Families can feel powerless and unsure about what they need to do and where to get help if something seems unclear or unfair.”

The Directorate said the Charter was the result of consultation with parents and families with lived experience of the ACT system, as well as child protection staff, service providers, advocates and oversight bodies.

It said a common theme from the consultations was the power imbalance felt by families.

“The Charter acknowledges this and strengthens support for families to feel heard and to be involved in decisions about their children as much as possible,” the Community Services Directorate said.

“It does not create new legal rights but makes clear the shared expectations and responsibilities and aims to improve the way parents and families experience child protection services,” it said.

“Importantly, the Charter does not take away any existing human rights but supports them.”

It said the Charter supported the distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as provided under section 27 of the ACT’s Human Rights Act 2004.

The Directorate’s eight-page Charter can be accessed at this PS News link.

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