Page 2958 - Week 07 - Thursday, 7 June 2012

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(Question No 2267)

Ms Bresnan asked the Minister for Community Services, upon notice, on 2 May 2012:

(1) What are the prevalence, characteristics and representation of female disabled parents in care and protection proceedings in comparison to non-disabled female parents.

(2) What are the current formal processes and mechanisms used to assess parenting capacity.

(3) What are the rates of child removal by authorities from female disabled parents, in comparison to non-disabled female parents.

Ms Burch: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Care and Protection Services data collection does not include this information.

(2) Care and Protection decisions are never made purely on the basis that a parent has a disability.

Care and Protection Services take a holistic approach to the assessment of parenting capacity and decisions are not made in isolation. Information is gathered from a variety of sources and a number of processes and mechanisms to assess parenting capacity are used. These include;

Interviews with parents and children

Home visits

Observations of parent child interaction

Consultation with other professionals involved in the family’s life

Requests for information from other agencies including the Australian Federal Police and Mental Health Services

The above information is incorporated into a Comprehensive Family Assessment. The Comprehensive Family Assessment draws on the evidence gathered and current research to identify the family’s strengths and to assist in Care and Protection Services decision making.

In some circumstances a more in-depth approach is necessary to understand parenting capacity within the family dynamics and this may include:

An independent Family Assessment completed by an approved service provider e.g. Psychologist, Psychiatrist or Social Worker external to the agency; and

Child Protection Assessment Report (CPAR).

The decision making is further reviewed by the Application Review Committee within Care and Protection Services. The Committee, comprising senior managers and legal representatives, considers the assessment and endorses applications to the court.

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