On Wednesday 24 October Minister Goward and the Premier unexpectedly announced child care and protection reforms for NSW, amending the Care and Protection and Adoption Acts.
Many community legal centres work as care partners, providing free legal advice and support to parents, children and guardians around out of home care.
Community Legal Centres NSW Executive Director Tim Leach said:
“The NSW government is punishing families for the government’s failure to provide the community services and supports require to keep families together in trying times.
“Rather than fast-tracking adoption and creating new stolen generations, the NSW government needs to be supporting communities and families
“On 24 September over twenty community legal centres wrote to the Minister expressing our concerns about the lack of genuine and transparent consultation on these reforms, particularly the lack of engagement with Aboriginal organisations.
“On 11 October The Minister replied saying that the outcomes of the process and the government’s response would be released later in the year. There was no mention at all of the proposed legislation.
“Today, the Minister and Premier have announced the introduction of legislation which will fast track adoption of children in out of home care. The lack of collaborative consultation on these reforms is both troubling and insulting to people working in this space.
“All families go through tough times, and sometimes kids and their parents need to spend time apart. Government solutions must focus on supporting families when they need help, not tearing them apart.
“Many community legal centres work as care partners, providing free legal advice and support to parents, children and guardians around out of home care. These essential services are woefully underfunded and contribute to the high numbers of children in out of home care.
“Important reforms like this need to be implemented through collaborative discussions with affected communities and service providers, and in particular Aboriginal organisations.
“These reforms are being rushed unnecessarily. We urge the government to act responsibly in the interests of families in NSW and defer this legislation until proper consultation has occurred,” he said.
Media inquiries: Mark Riboldi 0433 753 376
- Community Legal Centres NSW Submission to the 2017 Consultation Process
- The Bill on the NSW Parliament website