Today the TerritoryLabor Government passed amendments to the Care and Protection ofChildren Act which will give vulnerable families and children a betterchance for a bright future.
The amendments will ensure early support for familiesto take care of their children and reduce the number of children in out of homecare, result in more children living with their family, and improve courtorders and the legal process to better protect children.
Theamendments were developed in conjunction with key stakeholders and partners,including legal organisations, foster and kinship support agencies, andAboriginal organisations.
The amendments include:
Mandatingearly assessment, intervention and support. This enables the Chief ExecutiveOfficer of Territory Families to provide preventative and support services inorder to reduce the likelihood of children coming into contact with the childprotection system.
Improvingcare planning. This ensures that care plans are developedthroughout the legal process and are tailored to a childs individual needs andinterests. Care plans must include actions for Aboriginal children to maintainand develop their identity and connection to their culture, tradition, languageand country. They must also include arrangements for reunification with familyand plans for their transition out of care.
ImprovingCourt orders. This requires the Court to make an order thatsafeguards a childs wellbeing by making sure it is the most appropriate andleast intrusive. It also holds the Government to account to take reasonablesteps to prevent harm and provide early intervention support to families.
Formalisingthe transition to independence. This requires care plans forchildren 15 years or older to include actions that help them make thetransition to become capable and independent adults. This includes support toaccess accommodation, health, education or training and employment services.
Amendmentsto the Act implements 12 recommendations from the Royal Commission into theProtection and Detention of Children in the NT. From the 218 recommendations,79 are now complete, 41 well progressed, 95 are underway, and 3 not yetstarted.
Quotesfrom Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield
“A childs safety willalways be paramount and remains the most important factor in the childprotection system and our reform places that at the centre of ourdecision-making. The Territory Labor Government is transforming the Territorys childprotection system to give vulnerable children and young people the best chancefor a bright future.
We inherited a stressed and overburdened childprotection system from the CLP that was too focused on the crisis end. We areimproving it with a contemporary system which focuses on prevention over crisisintervention, support for families over removal, and strengthening culturalconnection over severing ties.
We are already seeing positive results from our overhaul of thechild protection system. This year, we have made significant advancement inplacing children with kinship or Aboriginal carers. Children in kinship carehouseholds have increased by 18% and children placed with Aboriginal carers haveincreased by 13%. We are ensuring that children are staying connected withfamily, culture and country, when it is safe to do so.