(image source: UT News)
Queensland has moved to provide children in protective services with greater long-term certainty and stability as the state moves to refocus efforts of its child protection system toward long-term outcomes for vulnerable children.
Introduced into Parliament on August 10, the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill aims to shift the focus of the emphasis of child protection within Queensland toward greater long-term care and better outcomes for children over the longer term.
Under the changes, permanency planning will be required as part of the case plan for each child coming into care.
A new ‘permanent care order’ will also be created which will give children in long-term care and their carers the same certainty as adoption but will not sever the legal relationship between a child and their birth parents in the same way as adoption does.
The reforms also limit the period under which children can be covered by short-term care orders to two years, provide for children to be cared for until the age of 25 if needed and facilitate better information sharing between child protection agencies.
The reforms follow a comprehensive review of the Act undertaken by the state’s Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services between 2015 and 2017.
In particular, there had been concern about short-term protective orders being issued without a comprehensive plan being put in place for the child’s long-term well-being or without concrete plans for reunification.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the reforms were about delivering a safe, secure future for vulnerable children.
“I have heard first-hand from those who understand the need for these changes the most – young people in care – and they strongly support the introduction of this new type of permanent care order.”
“Under these proposed changes, we are paving the way to creating a more robust and responsive child protection system where vulnerable children and young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”