Page 1592 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017

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(b) that the ACT remains the sole Australian jurisdiction where such decisions are not reviewable;

(c) that numerous constituents, including parents, carers and agencies, have expressed frustration, both in submissions to inquiries and directly to Members of this Assembly, that no pathway exists for aggrieved persons to seek external review of these decisions; and

(d) that the ACT Government in its 2016 “Response to Family Violence” acknowledged that “some important decisions are not subject to external review in the ACT while they are reviewable in other jurisdictions” and promised to undertake a JACS-led assessment of this situation; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) recognise the importance of ensuring that decisions regarding a child’s placement and care plans be subject to external review, both to ensure the quality of such decisions and to engender confidence in the system;

(b) provide a detailed outline of the following:

(i) what recommendations, if any, have come out of the JACS-led review; and

(ii) what specific steps the Government will take to bring the ACT into line with all other Australian jurisdictions by providing for external review of these decisions; and

(c) report back to the Assembly on these matters by the last sitting day in August 2017.

I am pleased to move this motion today, because it deals with a very important matter that several constituents have raised with me personally. It has not been just constituents who have raised concerns, however. This matter has also been addressed over a number of years in reports that have looked into the ACT government’s provision of care and protection for children and young people in the territory.

In May 2004 a report was submitted to the government entitled The territory as parent: review of the safety of children in care in the ACT and ACT child protection management, often known as the Vardon report. The stated purpose of this report was to secure the safety of children and young people in care in the ACT, and to redress deficiencies in current policies, procedures and practices for children and young people.

One of the main issues raised in the Vardon report was the lack of external scrutiny of decisions made by family services, the predecessor to what is now known in the territory as child and youth protection services, or CYPS, including external review of things such as placement decisions and care plans. The report noted that submissions to the commissioner highlighted the lack of an independence grievance structure, and that “parents, carers and agencies all relayed stories of frustration about having nowhere to go when they disagreed” with these decisions. The report further noted:

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