The Queensland Government today introduced legislation to strengthen the child protection and family support system, empowering children and young people to participate in decisions about their lives.
Minister for Children Leanne Linard said all Queenslanders wanted to see vulnerable children and families supported now and into the future.
“During consultations held in regard to this legislation, young people in the child protection system told us they want to be heard and need to be able to participate in decisions made about their lives,” Ms Linard said. “I can assure them that we have listened.
“Today we have introduced the Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, which will strengthen the Act to ensure children will be genuinely empowered and supported to participate in decisions about their lives and the child protection system.
“It will make Queensland the first jurisdiction in Australia to acknowledge in legislation the need for children to have a voice where they must be listened to, engaged with and where active attempts must be made to understand their views.”
The Bill will amend the Child Protection Act 1999 to:
- reinforce children’s rights in the legislative framework
- strengthen children’s voices in decisions that affect them
- streamline, clarify and improve the regulation of care.
Ms Linard said extensive work had already been undertaken to strengthen Queensland’s child protection system.
“We are now over half-way through the 10-year Supporting Families Changing Futures reform program and have delivered significant reforms,” she said. “Today’s Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 shows our ongoing commitment to vulnerable children and families.”
Ms Linard said that, during consultation, children and young people also spoke about the importance of knowing their rights.
“They told us about the rights they want to see protected, including the right to be treated with respect, the right to be treated fairly, and the right to be allowed to be a child,” she said.
“Today’s Bill addresses that feedback and provides significant rights to children.
“The Bill also amends the definition of kin so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can be placed with people who are regarded as kin by way of a legitimate cultural connection to the child.”