New laws provide stronger protections for children New laws paving the way for more effective working with children checks and greater rights for foster carers and children in care have passed State Parliament.
The Children’s Protection Law Reform (Transitional and Related Amendments) Bill enables elements of the Government’s child protection reform agenda to begin, transitioning to the new Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017. The Bill also enables consequential amendments to existing legislation.
It amends the Births Deaths and Marriages Act to allow for a name change of a child under guardianship, at the discretion of the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection.
A further consequential amendment will ensure financial or other assistance to be provided to an approved carer of children or young people are secured, including when care continues for children who are 18 years and over.
The transitional arrangements pave the way for the public release of regulations necessary to support the introduction of working with children checks in South Australia.
The current two-tiered system for working with children checks – where currently checks can involve either a national criminal history check or a check through the Screening Unit within the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion – will soon be replaced by a single, centralised process run by DCSI.
People convicted of a prescribed offence, such as murder, will automatically be barred from working with children, regardless of whether they have sought clearance. Regulations providing more detail on who needs a working with children check will be released for public consultation once they are finalised.
The new laws will have a staged commencement, with the first set expected to commence in February.