Page 3927 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Clause 5 will hopefully be well received by kinship and foster carers in that it seems designed to use more appropriate language to describe the vitally important and challenging roles that they have in the child’s life, and changing from “suitable entity” to “approved carer” seems to reflect this better.

Clause 10 that legislates that psychologists are now to be considered mandatory reporters of sexual abuse or non-accidental physical injury to a child or young person will bring us into line with South Australia and Tasmania and put us ahead of other jurisdictions in some regards and will sit alongside the existing Australian Psychological Society’s code of ethics. This will remove any uncertainty from this professional and privileged relationship.

Clauses 13 to 16 deal with issues of short-term parental responsibility and the changing time in which a child can be considered suitable for such an order. These amendments have, I know, created some questions and concerns, in particular in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. I asked some questions around this with my cabinet colleagues, as I touched on earlier. I am assured that, as the explanatory statement indicates, these changes are based on the evidence the impact of trauma can have on the neurodevelopment of children under two years of age and the importance of stability of placement in safe, healing relationships.

I have also been assured that in this regard, and similarly with subsequent clauses regarding enduring parental responsibilities, the intention is not prescriptive. It is focused on the best interests of the child and will allow for unique individual circumstances such as extended parental rehabilitation. I am also assured that if parents are able to demonstrate commitment to parenting their child safely this will be taken into account by the Children’s Court in determining orders.

I have suggested to my colleagues and repeat here now that due to the complexity and obvious sensitivity of these matters further community education campaigns be offered wherever needed as the amendments are implemented. Our community needs to be given the ongoing respect to respond to any continuing questions that are raised. As I said, I understand that these issues are of particular concern to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and I have been reassured by and am thankful for the minister’s and Community Services Directorate’s commitment to working through these concerns and offering briefings as required.

Clause 27 and subsequent clauses create a range of new sections that allow for streamlining and strengthening of the approval processes for approved carers and clarify some issues that were raised in the last debate regarding amendments to the act relating to notification methods.

I will not speak to the remainder of the clauses in depth, with the limited time and the late hour, but I make specific mention of clause 50 which enables the director-general to provide financial assistance to a carer where the young adult remains in the placement and this is an agreed part of the transition plan. The subsidy payment will now be available until the young adult turns 21 years of age or leaves the placement, whichever is earlier. I believe this is a very welcome recognition of the realities of

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