Vulnerable children in Queensland will need to be informed of their rights and know where they can seek help, and foster families will be vetted more rigorously under new state laws.
Children and Youth Minister Leanne Linard said the changes strengthen children’s rights, give young people a say in decisions that affect them and better regulate care.
The laws, passed by the state legislature on Tuesday evening, are expected to impact the lives of many indigenous children in the system.
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“They told us about the rights they want to see protected, including the right to be treated with respect and the right to be treated fairly,” Linard said in a statement late Tuesday.
“Today’s bill responds to these concerns and grants important new rights to children in the protection system.
Under the changes, authorities must make focused, thorough and timely efforts to protect First Nations children and keep them safe.
They must also ensure that the safety, well-being and best interests of the child are taken into account when decisions are made about them.
Children in the child protection system should be informed of their rights and how they can get help.
A bill of rights has also been expanded for young people to include cultural, religious, linguistic, equity, respect, identity development, play and recreation.
Ms Linard said the laws will also make it easier for children to question decisions made about their care and that adults will need to “genuinely listen, engage and understand the views of the child”.
Meanwhile, authorities will be allowed access to a person’s expanded criminal history when assessing their suitability to be a carer.
Caregiver certificates will be valid for three years, instead of the current two.
The minister also said the laws make it easier for family carers to apply.
The amendments also more clearly establish reporting requirements and will set out the legal framework for a statewide caregiver registry.
Finally, the minister’s department will be authorized to provide information to parents when a child dies, regardless of whether the child has been the subject of an order or how old the child is.
© APA 2022