Child protection legislation reform

Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022

The Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 (the Act) was passed in May 2022 to amend both the Child Protection Act 1999 and the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000. The amendments aim to:

  • reinforce children's rights
  • strengthen children's voices in decisions that affect them
  • enhance how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle is applied when making significant decisions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • streamline, clarify and improve the regulation of care.

These amendments will come into effect in 2 tranches:

  • Tranche 1 – includes streamlining the regulation of care, improving the operation of the Act and enabling information disclosure in additional circumstances. Tranche 1 will commence 31 October 2022.
  • Tranche 2 – includes reinforcing children's rights, strengthening their voices in decisions that affect them, requiring active efforts to apply the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle when making a significant decision about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, and further amendments to streamline, clarify and improve the regulation of care and improve the operation of the Act. Tranche 2 is anticipated to come into effect in the first half of 2023.

The Act also includes minor amendments to the Disability Services Act 2006 and technical amendments to the Adoption Act 2009. These changes commenced on assent.

Tranche 1 amendments include:

  • extending the renewal term for approved carers from 2 years to 3 years
  • streamlining assessments for existing kinship carers
  • clarifying foster and kinship carer reporting requirements
  • enabling information disclosure in circumstances where:
    • a parent requests information about a child who has died while not under an order
    • a person consents to information about themselves being disclosed
    • police require information about a notifier in certain circumstances
  • providing for certain orders to continue when an application is made to extend, vary, revoke or substitute
  • enabling the Court to hear an appeal before a notice of appeal is served
  • improving consistency in language for the definition of parent throughout the Act.

Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2017

A comprehensive review of the Child Protection Act 1999 (the Act) was undertaken between 2015 and 2017 following recommendations by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.

The Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2017 was passed to make priority changes to the Act, which was implemented in 3 stages.

Stage 1 amendments — commenced in January 2018 to enable the provision of more information to:

  • people who are, or have been, living in care
  • a parent or guardian, if a deceased child was subject to a child protection order
  • a police, if an investigation is being conducted following a child's death
  • child welfare authorities in other jurisdictions to respond to child protection concerns.

These changes included the establishment of the Time in Care Information Access Service.

Stage 2 amendments — commenced in July 2018, with changes made to:

  • Intervention with Parental Agreement
  • Temporary Custody Orders
  • vaccinations
  • research
  • child witness protections
  • use of information by the Queensland Police Service.

Stage 3 amendments — commenced in October 2018, which included:

  • the safe care and connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with family, community and culture including the right to self-determination and embedding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle in legislation
  • removal of reference to the Recognised Entity, the introduction of the new concept of an independent person for a child or young person, and the ability to delegate functions and powers to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation.
  • supporting permanency and stability for children, now and throughout their lives including introduction of a new permanency framework to promote timely decision-making, greater emphasis on all dimensions of permanency — relational, physical and legal aspects, stronger focus on achieving permanency goals and concurrent case planning, limitations on the use of consecutive short-term orders and the introduction of the permanent care order.
  • a contemporary information sharing framework including a greater ability for the family support system to share information and the publication of an Information Sharing Guideline by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.
  • support for young people to transition to adulthood, including a legal requirement for transition planning to commence from 15 years of age and the extension of support eligibility up to the age of 25 for young people who have been in care.