fbpx

Child Protection Update – Child Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021

On 10 May 2022, the Queensland Government announced child protection reforms through the Child Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021.  

What reforms have been introduced?  

The reforms focus on increased child participation in the child protection system, procedural updates to carer requirements and standards, and the expansion of legislative definitions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.  

These reforms reflect the Queensland Government’s efforts to provide a range of measures which will both empower the voices of children and young people and strengthen the procedures relating to child protection.  

How do these reforms affect children?  

In the statement announcing the reforms, the Honourable Leanne Linard outlined the following changes including:  

  • Strengthening the current Act, ensuring children will be genuinely empowered and supported to participate in decisions about their lives within the child protection system; 
  • reinforce children’s rights in the framework; 
  • strengthen children’s voices in decisions that affect them; 
  • amend the definition of kin so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can be placed with people who are regarded as kin if they have a legitimate cultural connection to the child; and 
  • streamline, clarify and improve the regulation of care.  

CHILD PARTICIPATION IN THE CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM 

SECTION 5E – Obtaining child’s views 

Section 5E, Obtaining a child’s views is the main reform included in the Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022. Section 5E allows children to participate in any decision which may affect them under the Act.  

Section 5E provides: 

Unless a provision of this Act states otherwise, the person must ensure the following in relation to the exercise of the power or the making of the decision— 

(a) the child is given meaningful and ongoing opportunities to participate; 

(b) the child is allowed to decide whether or not the child will participate; 

(c) the child is given information that is reasonably necessary to allow the child to participate; 

(d) the child is advised about what help is available to the child; 

(e) the person understands and considers, or makes a genuine attempt to understand and consider, any views expressed by the child; 

(f) the child is allowed to express views that are different to views previously expressed by the child; 

(g) communication with the child is carried out in a way that is appropriate for the child; 

(h) a record of views expressed by the child is made that, if appropriate, uses the child’s words. 

PROCEDURAL UPDATES TO CARER REQUIREMENTS & STANDARDS 

Information Sharing between Jurisdictions for Working With Children Checks 

The amendments include the expansion of limitations on acquisition of a Blue Card in Queensland. Specifically, the changes will allow for other interstate negative notices, suspensions, cancellations and withdrawals of working with children checks to be applicable in Queensland.  

For schools, if a potential teacher is prohibited from working with children in another jurisdiction, they will be unable to work with children in Queensland. (1)  

The potential impact of these changes have been outlined at Page 4 of the Bills Explanatory Note at Page 4 including that:  

  • “an applicant who is the holder of a negative notice in another jurisdiction will have their application withdrawn in Queensland; 
  • a cardholder whose interstate authority is suspended will have their Queensland authority suspended, and the chief executive will not be required to consider lifting their suspension until the suspension in the other jurisdiction ends 
  • a cardholder who is issued with a negative notice in another jurisdiction while holding a authority in Queensland will have their Queensland authority cancelled, with no right of review 
  • an applicant for whom an adverse interstate decision is no longer in effect will be risk assessed by the chief executive (working with children).” 

FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN  

Under the changes, the definition of kin has been expanded to include the following:  

  • “a member of the child’s family group who is a person of significance to the child 
  • if the child is an Aboriginal child – a person who, under Aboriginal tradition, is regarded as kin of the child 
  • if the child is a Torres Strait Islander child – a person who, under Island custom, is regarded as kin of the child  
  • another person who is recognized by the child, or the child’s family group, as a person of significance to the child, and for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, has a cultural connection with the child.” 

The current definition of kin has been restrictive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. With the expansion of this definition, these children will now be able to placed with those ‘kin’ who haven’t been previously captured as potential carers. 

CARERS – REQUIREMENTS AND CRITERIA  

These changes will introduce some major changes for child carers including:  

  • Authorities will now be granted wider access to potential carers criminal history; 
  • Statewide carers’ register will set out more clearly reporting requirements;  
  • The validity of child carer certificates to be extended from two to three years; 
  • The process to apply for kinship cares will be made easier. 

Contact Us 

We will keep you updated regarding these changes, if the Bill is passed. It is important for schools and other organisations that work with children and young people to regularly check their child protection policies and procedures. If you would like a review of your existing policies or you need assistance in updating them, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 07 3252 0011. 

References  

  1. Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 – Explanatory Note, Page 4.  

Helpful Links   

This article was written by Francisca Mayer & Prini Avia

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on email
Email it to your friend