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Legislation and principles

The Child Protection Act 1999 promotes the safe care and connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people with family, community, culture and country.

The Child Protection Act 1999 as amended in 2017 and proclaimed in October 2018 includes new and expanded principles that apply when administering the Act in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

In particular, section 5C of the Child Protection Act 1999 includes additional principles for administering the Act in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to self-determination (s 5C(1)(a)).
  • The long term effect of a decision on identity and connection with the child’s family and community must be taken into account (s 5C(1)(b)).
  • All five elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (prevention, partnership, placement, participation and connection) are always applied (s 5C(2)).

These principles significantly expand what was previously in the Act, regarding the hierarchy for placing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people who have been placed into care.

Other legislative amendments included:

  • Section 51B requires a case plan for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to include details about how the child will be supported to develop and maintain connections with their family, community and culture.
  • Section 83 amended to strengthen the requirement to place children with family and for the independent person to assist children and family members to participate in the process for making decisions about where or with whom the child will live.

The Child Protection Act 1999 amendments also introduced a new power for the chief executive of Child Safety to delegate some or all of their functions and powers in relation to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to an appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entity.

 

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