Children and families will have a greater voice – Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence – The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Legislation to give greater voice to children and families in court
Children and families will have a greater voice in child protection proceedings with proposed legislative changes introduced to Parliament today by the Palaszczuk Government.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman introduced the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill 2016, aimed at making the child protection system more responsive to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath introduced a second Bill, the Director of Child Protection Litigation Bill 2016, which establishes an independent statutory agency within the justice portfolio to conduct child protection legal matters.
Minister Fentiman said the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill 2016 made a number of technical amendments to improve how child protection matters are dealt with in the Childrens Court.
“The driving principle of our reforms to the child protection system is to keep children safe and give families the support they need to stop children entering the system in the first place,” Ms Fentiman said.
“However, sometimes court orders are necessary to keep children safe.
“Court can have a significant impact on the lives of the children and families involved in these proceedings, so it is only right that we ensure we have the best mechanisms in place for the child’s best interest to be considered.”
The Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill 2016 would amend the Child Protection Act 1999 and implement a number of recommendations made by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.
It enables children and families to have a stronger voice in child protection proceedings by:
- clarifying the role of various representatives for a child during proceedings, including a separate legal representative appointed by a Court to act in a child‘s best interests during proceedings; and
- providing a court with the ability to allow a person who is significant to the child to participate in proceedings.
These changes will help the court be as fully informed as possible of all relevant information, so it can make decisions in the best interests of the child.
Mrs D’Ath said the Director of Child Protection Litigation will establish an independent statutory agency within the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
“The director will be an experienced lawyer with expertise in child protection, and will be responsible for independently deciding whether an application for a child protection order should be made for a child, and if so what type of order, as well as conducting those court proceedings,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“They will be assisted by a specialist team of lawyers.
“In addition, a new Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor will be established.
“This office will provide child safety staff with early, independent legal advice and prepare briefs of evidence for the Director.
“These reforms are intended to strengthen the way in which the justice system deals with child protection matters in Queensland.”
Legislation to support the Government’s child and family reform agenda is currently being reviewed and closes on 29th February. To have your say, go to: www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au