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NSW: Court's role in child protection under scrutiny

NSW: Court's role in child protection under scrutiny
Friday, 22 February, 2008

This is a media release issued by NSW Community Services Minister Kevin Greene

NSW Community Services Minister Kevin Greene said that the second public hearing of the Special Commission of Inquiry today will examine the role that our legal system plays in child protection.

Community Services Minister Kevin Greene said
I've been to 68 of the 80 local DoCS offices in NSW, and caseworkers everywhere tell me they spend a lot of time in court and preparing for court.

Our court system has a vital and very central role in child protection in NSW.

The decision to remove a child from an unsafe home is always a serious one. It is appropriate that decision is given a stringent independent assessment by the judiciary.

In fact, as a key requirement of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it's vital that our child protection system maintains this process of review to meet international standards.

Today's hearing will no doubt bring a diverse range of opinions on this matter into the public arena.

What's most important is that we continue to put the safety of children first.

Last week's forum on Mandatory Reporting provided the opportunity for people to have a full and frank discussion about how that element of our systems works, and how it might be improved.

The range of views put forward demonstrates just how challenging the child protection system is.

I was pleased that Mr Wood got to hear first hand about the issues facing the system. He will no doubt continue to do so through the Public Forum process.

The NSW Government has invested heavily in our child protection system over the last five years and the improvements are clear:

DoCS caseworkers get to more cases than ever before;
12,600 children have been removed from unsafe homes;
2,000 families are involved in our new early intervention program, Brighter Futures, which helps families before they reach a crisis point; and there are 700 more staff on the frontline, and we're continuing to create more jobs for caseworkers.

This Inquiry will help us determine where we go from here. That's going to be challenging, but it's the critical step in improving how we help and protect vulnerable children in NSW

Secretary of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia said
I wonder how many of our groups will be attending the sessions of the Special Commission of Inquiry that is examining the role that our legal system plays in child protection.

It is vital we make further comment on the use of the AVO and DVO legislation, as a means to keep good mums and dads away from their children. The process is cumbersome and long winded and we are aware of cases that have been running for months with no resoluition for either party.
Edited

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