Page 2381 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2018

Debate resumed from 10 May 2018, on motion by Ms Stephen-Smith:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (11.46): I rise today to resume debate on the Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2018 which was first presented to the Assembly on 10 May this year. This bill seeks to amend the Children and Young People Act in two main ways: first, it clarifies that a limited care and protection appraisal may be carried out without the permission of the child’s parents or the person or persons with daily care responsibility for the child, if the parent or carer is the alleged perpetrator of abuse or violence.

This legislative clarification is a direct response to recommendation 9A of the Glanfield inquiry. Mr Glanfield specifically recommended that in such circumstances, the director-general should not be required to obtain agreement to the appraisal from each parent or each other person with daily care responsibility or seek an appraisal order from the Children’s Court.

The report of the inquiry somewhat incorrectly notes that child and youth protection services, or CYPS, is currently required to obtain permission from each parent or carer in order to undertake an appraisal. This has resulted in a situation where parents often refuse to agree to an appraisal and their children being interviewed without their presence. In cases where the parent is accused of inflicting violence and the parent is present disclosure from the child is unlikely to be obtained.

In actuality, section 368(3)(b) of the current Children and Young People Act already provides an exception to this requirement specifying that the director-general must take reasonable steps to obtain the agreement of each parent or carer unless it is not practical or not in the best interest of the child or young person to do so. In addition, section 370 of the act specifically exempts the need to seek the agreement of a parent or carer if the director-general suspects on reasonable grounds that doing so would be likely to put the child or young person at significant risk of abuse or neglect, or jeopardise a criminal investigation.

This appears to be another situation where disinclination to do the right thing within CYPS has been based more on misguided workplace culture led by this government than on the actual legislation. A similar situation was identified by Mr Glanfield in the area of misinformation sharing. According to the report of the inquiry, adequate avenues for the information sharing that is required to properly assess and manage family violence cases already existed in the territory’s legislation but workers nevertheless felt they lacked the authority to share and did not have an information-sharing culture in the workplace. Mr Glanfield, therefore, strongly recommended changes to law that would both clarify the need to appropriately share information and emphasise the authority to do so. This he hoped would help shift the information sharing culture in the ACT.

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