Legislation to strengthen protections and supports for children and families in contact with the child protection system has come into effect this week.
Minister for Child Safety Di Farmer said the changes strengthened Queensland’s child protection laws to improve long-term outcomes for children and young people in care.
“The changes go a long way towards providing greater permanency and stability for children in care, and enabling better ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families,” she said.
“We are committed to supporting children in care in Queensland so they remain connected to culture, have stability and security and can grow and learn.
“We set out to design new contemporary laws based on the evidence of what works and on the lived experiences of children and families.
“Whilst these changes complete this phase of legislative reform, there’s still much to do.
“Our work continues with implementing key reforms as set out in the Supporting Families Changing Futures program.”
The Child Protection Act 1999 covers the protection of children in Queensland and sets out the way services and supports are provided to improve opportunities and life outcomes.
Changes to the Act were a result of extensive stakeholder and community consultation, recommendations from the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry and Supporting Families Changing Futures reforms.
The latest changes relate to the commencement of the remaining amendments included in the Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2017.
They represent four key areas of change — safe care and connection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people; stability and permanency changes for long lasting outcomes; supports for young people to successfully transition to adulthood and information sharing among services working to support families.
Ms Farmer said the amendments to the Act ushered in a new era of working more closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through a new Family Participation Program.
“We have invested $34 million over three years to fund 15 new Family Participation services which will roll out across the state to support families fully take part in child protection decisions,” she said.
“The family-led process these services will implement empowers parents, families and children to solve problems and lead decision-making in a culturally safe space.
“We know stronger connections to family and culture result in better outcomes.”
Ms Farmer said the legislative changes also introduced new principles for permanency to help solidify longer-term care arrangements for a child.
“We know when it’s not possible for children to live at home, long-term and stable living arrangements are in the child’s best interest,” she said.
The changes also see improvements in the way information is shared about children and families involved with the child protection system.
The reforms empower service providers to share relevant information in situations where harm or risk to a child is suspected while maintaining confidentiality. Agencies are also supported when there is a need to assess a child’s case plan or respond to health, educational or care needs.
To find out more visit www.csyw.qld.gov.au/child-family-reform.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer