Page 3926 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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proposed amendments change the time frame of the limitation by bringing forward the period necessary before the Children’s Court is able to extend short-term care orders or make long-term care orders.

This bill will also make psychologists mandated reporters. It will impose on psychologists the same responsibilities as other health professionals that are mandated reporters. So in a practical sense it will make it mandatory for a psychologist to report sexual abuse or non-accidental physical injury to a child or young person.

In conclusion, while we have informed the Assembly of concerns surrounding public consultation that have been expressed to us, it is the will of the Assembly not to refer this bill to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services. Therefore we support the intent of this bill despite these concerns. The Children and Young People Act 2008 and the subsequent amendment bills have placed the best interest of the child or young person as the paramount consideration and we must not lose sight of this overarching need.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (6.18): I will be supporting the bill before us today. This third tranche of the major reforms to care and protection services in the ACT in a challenging domain has been driven by key questions about the current system and has been prepared so that it answers the question: “Can we do better?”As the explanatory statement sets out, clearly there will be many changes in the service system’s response to the abuse and neglect of children and young people in our community once implemented.

The stronger focus on birth parent advocacy with the creation of a stand-alone service is one example, I think, of the broad scope of the legislation in that it recognises fully that the distinct vulnerabilities inherent in some families where neglect occurs may also influence that parent’s ability to have appropriate ongoing involvement with their children. This is a brave area of focus when the attention quite rightly is on the safety and best interests of the child but shows that a step up for our kids is seeking to consider these interests in depth.

Clause 4 will allow a children and youth services council to be established from time to time to exercise stated functions with specific strategic purpose and remit, thereby abolishing the standing council. A key concern for the ACT Greens going forward with these reforms is the need for the voice of the child or young person to be heard clearly. They will be the ones who will be most affected by these changes and will be the most reliable source of information and advice about the effectiveness of the legislation once translated into daily practice.

However I do understand the rationale behind seeking to add more relevance and direction to these types of councils and groups. It is my hope, though, that the Community Services Directorate in partnership with the appropriate non-government community agencies develops a genuine and long-lasting avenue for children and young people to advocate for themselves and for their peers in the care networks. And I look forward to hearing more about how this might happen soon.

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