Children and Young People (Safety) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

Bills, In Parliament, Speeches

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 25 May 2021.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:37): I rise to speak briefly on this bill, although possibly less briefly than I was going to. I note that the Greens recognise that this amendment bill is a bit of a stopgap measure as there will be a full review of this particular act in 2022. What we do welcome, however, in this particular piece of legislation is the reinsertion of principles and provisions that existed in the previous legislation that were not included when we first implemented the Children and Young People (Safety) Act.

In particular, we welcome the reinsertion of the ‘best interests principle’ as a key consideration in the administration of the act. While the safety of children and young people is absolutely an important consideration in decision-making, we also should be making sure that their best interests are taken into account as well. It is good to see this reinsertion. A good way forward has been found from what seemed like an intractable debate in previous incarnations of this legislation.

The reintroduction of short-term investigation and assessment orders will ensure that children and young people are not left in limbo for unnecessarily long periods of time, and it certainly is a welcome change. The Greens note that under this proposed legislation the courts will be able to make short-term custody orders of up to six weeks to allow an investigation of the circumstances of that child or young person to be carried out and that urgent applications will be dealt with much more expeditiously. I am sure this will be a welcome relief to many.

In a very welcome move, there is also clear articulation and expansion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle. This is something we fully and wholeheartedly welcome and look forward to supporting. We note that there were amendments made in the lower house to this piece of legislation, including some really important clarifications around a child’s consent to adoption, and in particular around the requirements for ministerial consultation with carers. We believe that these are both positive steps.

We do however hold some reservations at this stage about those provisions regarding adoption and those provisions around carers, and we are currently in contact with stakeholders and community groups. I want to thank the government for the briefing they have provided, and I understand that the opposition has amendments forthcoming to this bill as well. We will therefore be reserving our right to our position throughout the committee stage, and I flag that in clause 1 we will have quite a few questions at that point.

This piece of legislation, as we know, was somewhat vexed under the auspices of the Weatherill government. I do commend the minister for finding that pathway through that ‘best interests of the child’ previous debate and we look forward to continuing discussions. I note that there has been a lot of community interest in this piece of legislation, but I also note that there is another review coming. If we cannot find a way of supporting all the measures in this particular incarnation of the legislation, we will certainly be looking forward to full and appropriate consultation for that 2020 review and forthcoming legislation.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. N.J. Centofanti.