Queensland marks another step in child safety reform journey
Published Thursday, 12 May, 2016 at 08:58 AM
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
The Queensland Government has taken another important step in its reform of the child protection system, with new laws aimed at making the system more responsive to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.
Queensland Parliament last night passed the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill and Director of Child Protection Litigation Bill which support reforms to how matters are dealt with in the Children’s Court.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the new laws would strengthen processes in the Children’s Court in Queensland to give a greater voice to children and their families.
“Every day, the Children’s Court makes decisions which can have significant impacts on children and their families,” she said.
“These reforms will ensure the most relevant information is provided to the court and children and families have a real opportunity to put their views across about decisions that affect them.
“This is an important part of our Supporting Families, Changing Futures reform agenda, which is all about supporting families to keep their children safely at home.”
The laws implement a number of recommendations made by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry in 2013. Along with the broader court reform program, they enable children and families to have a stronger voice in child protection proceedings by:
- clarifying the role of various representatives for a child during proceedings, including a separate legal representative appointed by a Court to act in a child‘s best interests during proceedings; and
- providing a court with the ability to allow a person who is significant to the child to participate in proceedings.
These changes are designed to help the court be as fully informed as possible of all relevant information, so it can make decisions in the best interests of the child.
Other measures in the new laws include supporting the establishment of the Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor within the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, which will improve the way evidence is prepared to support child protection order applications.
The passage of the Director of Child Protection Litigation Bill 2016 supports the establishment of an independent statutory agency within the Justice portfolio.
The Director of Child Protection Litigation will be responsible for independently deciding whether an application for a child protection order should be made for a child, and if so what type of order, as well as conducting the proceedings before a court.
Media Contact: Minister Fentiman’s office 3719 7500