Protection system

Child welfare system faces another scrutiny

The state government is inviting submissions as it launches a planned review of child protection legislation in South Australia.

The review, which opens tomorrow for public submissions, examines the operation of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, which is the centerpiece of the legislation governing the operation of the state Department of Child Welfare.

The law covers a wide range of child protection issues, including the management of child removals and reports of children at risk, court orders, guardianship, foster care agencies, powers and functions of the chief executive and child protection officers, and the child and adolescent visitor. scheme.

The review of the law will seek input from people with direct experience of the system, children and young people, caregivers and families, non-governmental and governmental partners, and the academic sector.

The state government says the review – required every five years – is an opportunity to “redefine what our child safety responses will look like in the future”.

Child Protection Minister Katrine Hildyard said the review would be an “important undertaking” and aim to engage the public on the “intense challenges” facing child protection.

“Through the review, we are committed to exploring how we can increase family group conferencing; better detect and act on cumulative damage; improve responses when children are at risk due to parental methamphetamine use; and address the links between child protection and domestic and family violence and consider whether legislation could mandate the education of perpetrators,” she said in a statement.

“I encourage anyone wishing to provide feedback on the legislation to do so through the available channels over the next 10 weeks.

“This review represents a crucial and potentially transformative moment to better address the complex and deeply interconnected issues facing families and the child welfare system and, in doing so, improve the lives of children.

Consultation sessions for the review will be held in September and October, and details of the event will be released on September 12.

It is the latest in a series of reviews of South Australia’s beleaguered child welfare system, which has come under intense scrutiny this year after two child deaths left the under investigation by the police as a case of alleged criminal negligence.

Former Police Commissioner Mal Hyde is leading a review of the Prime Minister’s Department into the interactions the departments have had with the families of these two children (Charlie, 6, and Makai, 7) and the appropriateness and effectiveness of the current systems in place.

This comes on top of an independent post-coronial review undertaken by NSW bureaucrat Kate Alexander looking at the government’s progress in implementing recommendations from previous child protection inquests.

There is also an ongoing review of South Australia’s foster and foster care system – which has received over 200 submissions – as well as a separate Royal Commission-style inquiry into the state removal of Aboriginal children. .

Hildyard said the review of the legislation would take into account findings from other inquiries and emphasize Indigenous engagement.

“Building an improved child protection system for the future requires amplifying the voices of those at the center and engaging the wider community in a public debate about the intense challenges we face and what what needs to be done for better,” she said.

“This review gives us the opportunity to do that and, with one in three South Australian children notified to the child protection system before the age of 18, we must do so.

“A key priority of the review is to work with Indigenous stakeholders to deliver on our commitment to fully integrate the principle of placement for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander children.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas told ABC Radio last week he hoped the Hyde child protection review would be delivered “before the end of spring”.

The state government has pledged to make the report public and act “urgently” on its recommendations.

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