NSW Parliament has passed legislation aimed at making a number of changes to existing child protection laws. The Child Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (NSW) was assented to on 4 April 2014 and will commence on a day to be proclaimed. According to Pru Goward, the Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Women these are important reforms:
'This new legislation provides for earlier intervention to keep families together with support. It also means courts will have new powers to order parents to undergo treatment or attend services to deal with the issues putting their children at risk. These laws mean the Department of Family and Community Services must consider adoption for children where the court has ordered that the child cannot return to its parents or family until the age of 18. This presents an option for permanency and stability where foster care too often cannot. The new laws are designed to give vulnerable children the best possible chance of a safe and stable home for life.' Source: media release, 26 March 2014.
background to the legislation
In November 2012, a discussion paper - Child Protection: Legislative Reform Legislative proposals: Strengthening parental capacity, accountability and outcomes for children and young people in State care was released.
Responses to the legislation
- Women’s Legal Services (NSW) has expressed concern over changes that they believe fail to adequately support mothers experiencing domestic violence and will lead to many children being fast-tracked into adoption, despite the child’s best interest. See media releases that give voice to their concerns.
- the Law Society of NSW Indigenous Issues Committee (IIC) has written an open letter expressing support and concerns over these new changes, 25 February 2014
- Community Legal Centres NSW – see media release, 27 March 2014