Page 2382 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 31 July 2018
For this reason, two reportable conduct and information-sharing legislation bills have been approved by this Assembly over the past two years. I sincerely hope their additional clarity is having the intended impact when it comes to sharing critical information in the areas of child protection and family violence.
It appears that we have a similar need to shift the misguided workplace culture that has resulted previously in the kinds of situations described in the explanatory statement for this bill. Where a violent parent endangers the safety and wellbeing of a child and intimidates CYPS, as noted in the briefing obtained by my office, perpetrators of domestic violence are often skilled at coercive, controlling behaviours and too many child protection workers have apparently fallen victim to this behaviour. It is shameful that this and previous Labor-Greens governments have overseen the development of such situations without swift correction.
Staff inside CYPS have extremely difficult jobs. If they have been threatened with violence as a result of false assumptions about what they were required to do, where was the training to correct the workplace culture? If the end result of leaving CYPS workers to be unnecessarily intimidated by violent parents was also leaving children in danger, where were the Labor governments on this point? If overworked staff do not grasp the legislation, should we not expect that at least the Labor ministers they work for understand it? This appears not to have been the case.
It is wise, therefore, to improve the language of the Children and Young People Act in order to clarify that a limited care and protection appraisal may, indeed, 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. Significantly, this amendment also clarifies the threshold of carrying out unlimited appraisal without agreement. As I have already noted, section 368(3)(b) of the current act sets this threshold as the best interest of the child or young person. Section 370 speaks only of the need to avoid putting the child or young person at significant risk of abuse or neglect. This bill makes best interest the consistent benchmark across all sections.
The Canberra Liberals regret the failure of this government to adequately train and support its child protection workers in this space resulting in unfortunate situations where CYPS staff have clearly been threatened and intimidated by violent parents or carers, leaving vulnerable children at risk. This never should have been allowed to occur. It is time to make this long overdue change, so the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this amendment.
The second main purpose of this bill is to allow for the sub-delegation of functions in care and protection decisions. Currently the director-general can delegate specific decision-making to responsible persons within approved kinship and foster care organisations as well as approved residential care services. Under A step up for our kids the stated plan was for these decisions to be made speedily and closer to the child or young person and their carer. The Legislation Act 2001 does not allow a delegate to sub-delegate responsibilities. However, blocking this intention and turning