The Newman Government’s commitment to making Queensland the safest place to raise a child will take an important step forward with reforms recommended by the Child Protection Commission of Inquiry introduced in Parliament today.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the State Government was following the Commission’s roadmap to developing a sustainable and effective child protection system over the next decade.
“Our children are Queensland’s future and these reforms lay the foundation to make this state the safest place to raise a child and to protect our most vulnerable,” Mr Bleijie said.
“The focus is on supporting families and preventing children from entering the child protection system.
“While the former Labor Government failed to act on recommendations from its own inquiries into this important issue, we have made it a priority.
“Under the reforms, a new entity, the Queensland Family and Child Commission, will be formed to oversee the child protection system and align Queensland with other jurisdictions.
“To ensure our most vulnerable do not slip through the bureaucratic cracks, the Adult Guardian and Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian will also be replaced with a new Public Guardian.
“This new independent statutory body will provide individual advocacy for children in the child protection system, administer a child visiting program for the most vulnerable children and will have the right to appear in legal proceedings to assist children ensure they have a voice.
“Current Adult Guardian Kevin Martin, who has an impressive track record with organisations that protect and assist vulnerable people, will take on the role of Public Guardian until August 2015, which is the end of his current term.”
Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis said the three Bills introduced today were an integral starting point.
“This is the just the start of extensive reforms that will build a new child and family support system in Queensland,” Mrs Davis said.
“Over the last decade, child protection intakes have tripled, children in care are staying there for longer periods and the budget for child protection services has more than tripled,” Mrs Davis said.
“Families deserve reform, not more band aids, and this legislation will allow the Government to implement the rest of the Inquiry’s recommendations.
“We will make it easier for families to get the support they need so that, wherever possible, children can remain at home.”
Other reforms included in the Bills are:
- Transfer the responsibility for administering the Blue Card scheme to the Public Safety Business Agency
- Establish a child death review panel process to review the deaths and serious injuries of children known to Child Safety and other cases if required,
- Clarify leadership of the Children’s Court and improve court processes
- Allow prescribed entities to share information with service providers when children are likely to become in need of protection if support is not provided to their family.