South Australia gets improvements in its child protection system



After a late-night sitting of Parliament, Australian troubled child protection system is set to have crucial improvements to better protect at-risk children. MPs voted to approve long-awaited legislation acting on a raft of 260 recommendations made by Royal Commissioner Margaret Nyland in its report in August.

The Bill has shifted the responsibilities of care to the chief executive of the Child Protection Department for at-risk children and those in state care.


The new laws will:

STRENGTHEN drug testing of at-risk parents.

EXPLICITLY outlaw genital mutilation of children.

ENABLE better information-sharing to ensure children do not slip through gaps between government agencies.

GIVE more information to foster carers about the backgrounds of troubled children coming into their home, so they are better prepared to care for them.

ALLOW foster carers to seek an external review when a child is removed from their care.

SET clearer timelines about when children are removed from unsafe parents and placed permanently with foster carers, to give them more stability.

MAKE safety the most important factor when considering who should care for a child.


Child Protection Reform Minister John Rau opinion:

  • It would make “huge” improvements to a system.
  • It’s a completely different system and so much better.
  • “The changes, just in the ability of kids to have a stable (foster care) placement, are so much of an improvement on where we are now.
  • It will better support foster carers and make foster care a more attractive option for many people who may be thinking about it but might not be prepared to do it now.
  • Liberals had risked important reforms because they didn’t “get their way”


Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close Views:

  • “The new laws gave a “stronger voice for children and young people so they can be involved in the decisions that are being made around their lives”.
  • “For staff, the new Bill enables greater ability to act proactively to protect children and young people at risk of further harm.
  • “It respects the professional judgment of those who know the children, young people, families and carers, so those decisions are best informed and have the greatest opportunity to result in positive outcomes”.


The Opposition:

  • The Opposition had opposed elements of the Bill which has led to debate in the Parliament for some months. It also moved an eleventh hour bid on the night before new laws came to force, trying to knock the Bill out entirely but lacked numbers to vote it down.
  • It aimed to prioritize the best interests of a child ignoring the Government’s attempts to safety as the key consideration.
  • The responsibilities of care to the chief executive of the Child Protection Department should remain with the Minister.



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