ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: ACTCOSS gives evidence on the urgent need for more transparency and accountability in the ACT child protection system

6 February 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service this week called for more transparency and a robust external review mechanism of child protection decisions in its evidence to the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Inquiry into Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS).

Echoing calls from key stakeholders including the ACT Human Rights Commission and Legal Aid ACT, CEO of ACTCOSS, Dr Emma Campbell said:

“The removal of a child from their parents and family is one of the gravest decisions that can be made.

“To ensure that the community retains confidence in the ACT’s Child and Youth Protection Services, the child protection system must be transparent and accountable.

“There is no robust external mechanism to review decisions”, Dr Campbell said.

Dr Campbell said that protection decisions and responses had huge impacts on the lives of children, young people and families.

“The absence of appropriate mechanisms for the review of child protection decisions means the ACT is out of step with other jurisdictions.

“If the Minister for Children, Youth and Families is interested, ACTCOSS and other stakeholders will be pleased to engage with the Minister on the design of an appropriate review system.

“We look forward to working with the ACT Government and its substantial policy, administrative and legal resources to develop proposals for a robust external review system”, Dr Campbell said.

The ACTCOSS submission is based on feedback from its members who work with children, young people and families in the ACT. ACTCOSS’s recommendations include:

·         Improvements to CYPS’s communication with children and young people, carers and parents

·         Implementation of an external review model through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal

·         Inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles in CYPS policy and practice

·         Provision of ongoing unconscious bias training to CYPS staff

·         Adoption of a ‘restorative practice approach’ to child protection.

“We thank the Standing Committee for pursuing an inquiry into this important matter, and we look forward to its recommendations.

“ACTCOSS will continue to advocate on this issue, drawing upon the important work of our members who work with the children, young people and families impacted by the child protection system in the ACT”, Dr Campbell said.

ACTCOSS represents not-for-profit community organisations and advocates for social justice in the ACT.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.