Joint media release from:
SACOSS, the AMA (SA), Council for the Care of Children, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM), the Aboriginal Community Leadership Reference Group (ACLRG), the Child Protection Reform Movement, and Child and Family Focus SA (previously the Child and Family Welfare Association SA)
An alliance of child protection advocates has criticised the government for failing to follow-through on its promise to put through a Bill to complement legislation passed in the wake of the Nyland Royal Commission.
Disappointingly, the government has prioritised the passage of the Children’s Protection Law Reform (Transitional Arrangements and Related Amendments) Bill 2017 during next week’s Parliamentary sittings rather than the new Prevention and Early Intervention for the Development and Wellbeing of Children and Young People Bill 2017.
According to Ross Womersley, CEO of SACOSS, “With only 3 sitting days left this year, the government is again focusing on patching up legislation about our broken child protection system rather than following through on their promise to pass legislation which is really designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
Council for the Care of Children Chair Simon Schrapel added, “South Australia’s deteriorating record of an ever increasing and costly removal of children from families demands urgent attention. Prevention and early intervention is widely considered the best approach to turn around the dire situation South Australia now finds itself in. Prioritising Childrens’ Protection Law Reform amendments over new legislation - which would drive a real and sustainable reduction of abuse and neglect of children - is akin to ‘fiddling while Rome burns.”
Melissa Clarke, a representative of the ALRM and also Chair of the Aboriginal Communities Leadership Reference Group, said “The purpose of the Bill is to ensure prevention and early intervention for the development and wellbeing of Children and young people. In doing so, the Bill also has a responsibility to ensure the Human Rights of Aboriginal children, families and communities are protected and supported by addressing the social and economic disadvantages that underlie the contemporary removals and realities experienced by Aboriginal Children. This can only be achieved through culturally safe and culturally proficient intent, actions and implementation guided by Aboriginal community control over decision making and service delivery.”
In July of this year, child protection advocates slammed the government for not including important provisions in the Children and Young People Safety Act, the legislation that directs our child protection system to prevent and intervene early where parenting and other social issues might impact children.
“At that time the government committed to working to pass legislation before the end of the year to complement this legislation,” says Ross Womersley.
“However, the Bill continues to be of low priority and so is not likely to progress this week, which threatens its viability of passing prior to the election next year.
“This Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 on its own does little to address parenting issues before abuse and neglect occurs and the removal of children is necessary.