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Alliance urges Upper House to reject flawed & inadequate Child Safety Bill

Joint media release: SACOSS, Australian Medical Association (SA), The Law Society of SA, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, The Youth Affairs Council of SA, Child and Family Welfare Association of SA, The Child Protection Reform Movement, and Council for the Care of Children 

An alliance of child advocates including SACOSS, the AMA (SA) and the Law Society, is disappointed that the Government continues to ignore their expert advice and now urges the members of the Upper House to halt progress of the Children and Young People (Safety) Bill unless remedied.

Members of the alliance include SACOSS, the Law Society, AMA (SA), CAFWA, YACSA, ALRM, the Council for the Care of Children, and the Child Protection Reform Movement. Despite repeatedly encouraging the Government to address key flaws in the Bill, in its current form it remains completely inadequate.

Three crucial areas include: the absence of focus on prevention and early intervention; the need for measures that redress the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people; and the need to ensure assessments are based on “best interests of the child” rather than “safety” alone. The current legislation is not consistent with our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

In our meetings with Government, they did canvass the idea of potentially redrafting the Family and Community Services Act 1972 or developing a new Act, with the idea of establishing a much broader legislative base for the activities of prevention and early intervention especially in relation to child abuse and neglect. 

We believe this may be a useful way in which to embed the activities of prevention and early intervention across a range of areas including in driving the work of government in areas of children’s wellbeing, health services, education, juvenile justice and support to families and communities more broadly.

If so, a revised F&CS Act (or a completely new Bill) must be considered in conjunction with a duly amended Safety Bill, so as to ensure a comprehensive basis on which to advance the wellbeing and safety of children and young people across South Australia. 

To this end we urge the Cross Bench and the Upper House not to support the Children and Young People (Safety) Bill passing the Legislative Council even with significant amendment, without the opportunity for consideration of another Bill containing prevention/early intervention measures at the same time.

Quotes attributable to: 

Ross Womersley, SACOSS CEO, says, “We are asking that the Cross Bench takes a strong stance with regard to the C&YP (Safety) Bill. It is a Bill designed to protect some of SA’s most vulnerable citizens and therefore it is something that we absolutely must get right.”

AMA(SA) President Associate Professor William Tam stressed that the fact that so many groups are standing together on this issue is significant and reflects the strong concerns about the Bill, and that the responses we have seen so far are falling short: "It is not every day that you have this many groups standing together to say 'this is not good enough'. We have heard the rhetoric about prevention and early intervention, but what we need now is action."

Simon Schrapel, Chair of the Council for the Care of Children, said "If the current Child Safety Bill is allowed to pass without the major reforms identified by the Alliance and without a parallel Bill for Child and Family Wellbeing and Prevention then we will be taking a massive backwards step for South Australia's children.   This would be one of this Government's greatest missed opportunities at a time we desperately need contemporary legislation to promote the best interests of children and young people in our State"

For further information or comment, please contact:

Ross Womersley, CEO of SACOSS, on 0418 805 426 

Eva Driscoll, Director of Policy and Communications, AMA (SA) on 0401 286 608

Michael Esposito, Communications Manager, The Law Society on 0422 073 146.

Cheryl Axelby, CEO of ALRM, on 8113 3777

Anne Bainbridge, ED of YACSA, on 0417 863 089

Rob Martin, ED of CAWFA, on 0438 821 918

Simon Schrapel, Chair of the Council for the Care of Children, on 0411 643 132

Brendan Burns, Chair of the Child Protection Reform Movement, on 0429 123 888.

Published Date: 
Tuesday, 16 May 2017