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Permanency legislation and principles

Legislation, policy and procedures guide Child Safety’s approach to permanency.

The Child Protection Act 1999 has specific areas that relate to permanency. While all the principles in Part 2, Division 1 need to be addressed in decision making, the Child Protection Act 1999 also has additional principles that must be considered when making decisions or taking actions about children in achieving permanency.

These are outlined in section 5BA and are to be considered at all phases of the child protection continuum.

Relational

ongoing positive, loving, trusting and nurturing relationships with significant others, which may include the young person’s parents, siblings, carers and guardians.

Relationships with carers and family need to be supported to ensure that children and young people have a range of people as part of their safety and support network. This is crucial in permanency decision making.

Physical

safe, stable living arrangements with connections to the child’s community that meet the child’s developmental, educational, emotional, health, intellectual and physical needs.

Children will have a stable carer, guardian or parent to live with, and they will have access to support services when they need them.

Legal

 legal arrangements for a child’s care will provide a child with a sense of permanency and long-term stability, for example, long-term guardianship orders; permanent care orders, Family Court orders or adoption. 

A child protection order will provide a child with stability and security in the long term until they are assisted in taking on adult responsibility for themselves or have an adult guardian to assist them.

Section 5BA also provides an order of priority when deciding permanency options for children and young people:

  • The first preference is for the child to be cared for by family.
  • The second preference is for the child to be cared for under the guardianship of a family member or another suitable person
  • The third preference is guardianship to the chief executive.

This video outlines key Child Protection Reform Amendment Act amendments that occurred in 2018 and highlights the importance of supporting the long-term stability, safety, wellbeing and belonging of children and young people through timely decisions and casework.

Child Protection Reform Act Amendments – info for children, young people, parents and carers

Concurrent planning—which sees the development of a primary and an alternative case plan goal—is embedded in the Child Protection Act 1999 under Section 51B. The aim of concurrent planning is to achieve timely permanency for children and young people.

Legislatively, a departmental case plan must include a primary goal for best achieving permanency and the actions to be taken to achieve this goal. In most cases, reunification will be identified as the primary goal for achieving permanency. An alternative permanency goal must also be identified, in the event that the timely return of the child to the care of a parent is not possible.

When considering permanency options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families, the right to self-determination (to make decisions about their own lives) and the child placement principle elements of prevention, partnership, placement, participation, and connection in the Act are to be applied.

Family-led decision making processes are used to ensure maximum involvement of families in planning for children. They are very important in making permanency decisions.

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