Anglicare SA

Child protection response delivers required changes

AnglicareSA has supported the State Government’s response to the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission which places the highest priority on the interests of children.

CEO Peter Sandeman said the four-year, $432 million commitment will go a long way in helping deliver many of the necessary reforms to create a new child protection system that will ensure the state’s most vulnerable children get the support they need and deserve.

“We have long been advocates of ensuring that the best interests of a child under the guardianship of the Minister are at the forefront of all considerations and we welcome this being recognised in the draft legislation,” Peter said.

“A new Act that requires every person, service and organisation to demonstrate that their policies, practices and decisions that affect children are purely based on what’s best for the child is essential.

“The proposed changes will hold the State Government and agencies like AnglicareSA accountable when it assumes parental responsibility. We should all be held to account, but in the past this hasn’t always been the case.”

Peter said he welcomed the commitment in delivering Justice Nyland’s proposed Child and Family Assessment and Referral network, regionally located and based on identified community need, trends and patterns.

“We would support a new network where less urgent notifications that don’t require an immediate response would be managed and responded to by this network and overseen by a non-government organisation,” Peter said.

“However the network warrants more discussion and thinking around the initial referrals process, including who manages the assessment and decision about what level of risk a situation presents. Our view is that these are professional and expert decisions which should be implemented accordingly.”

Peter said he was also pleased to see a focus and investment in much-needed early intervention strategies, which will ultimately reduce and prevent children from entering the system.

“Ideally the best outcome for a child is to be in a supported, safe and stable family environment and focussing on strengthening families must be a priority of the system,” Peter said.

“We need to reduce the number of children in residential care and better support our foster and kinship carers, who in the past have been the behind the scenes heroes lacking the rights and recognition they so thoroughly deserve.”

AnglicareSA also welcomes the recognition that young people leaving care often need and seek supports beyond 18 years of age in line with what generally happens in our community.

As part of the engagement process AnglicareSA will review the draft Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 and provide comment.