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Queensland Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill has been passed: But what does it all mean?

Written on November 3, 2017

Last week, Queensland Parliament made an historical commitment to young people who have been in out of home care. They passed the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill, a huge step towards securing a better future for young people.

This Bill is also highly significant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families and enables permanency provisions, which we will cover in later blogs. But for now, let’s focus on what the amendment says about transition to independence and why it is important.

Many young people have told us they face significant challenges when they leave care including;

  • They are more likely to become homeless,
  • Disconnection from carers and other important people,
  • Fear of the unknown,
  • They are less likely to complete their education
  • They are more likely to become unemploymed, and
  • Experience difficulties in accessing health services.

These challenges exist for young people who are not in out-of-home care, but with the support of family, even if they make a mistake,  run out of money or their accommodation doesn’t work out, they are able to rely on their parents or other family to help them out.

The passing of this Bill, which will be made into legislation at a later date, means that we can better plan for a more secure future for our young people. Most significantly, this Bill outlines what you can expect to get help with when you transition from care.

The Bill (Section 75) says that young people must be assisted up to the age of 25 years. The section below outlines what this may look like, but that it is not limited to only these suggestions.

By the way, you can check this out yourself, by following this link and going to page 38 of the Bill: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2017/5517T1279.pdf

Section 75: Transition to independence

(1) This section applies to a person who is or has been a child in the custody or under the guardianship of the chief executive.

(2) As far as practicable, the chief executive must—

(a) ensure help is available to assist the person in the transition from being a child in care to independence; and

(b) ensure the help is available to the person for the period starting when the person turns 15 and ending when the person turns 25.

(3) Without limiting subsection (2)(a), the help may include the following—

(a) help to access entitlements, including, for example, social security allowances or payments;

(b) help to access appropriate accommodation;

(c) help to access education and training;

(d) help to obtain employment;

(e) help to obtain legal advice;

(f) help to access health and community services, including, for example, specialist disability support services;

(g) support in establishing or maintaining relationships with the person’s family or carer;

(h) help in accessing information, including information in the chief executive’s possession or control, about the person and his or her time in care; Note— See section 188C about the information the chief executive may give the person.

(i) counselling or other support to help the person in relation to information mentioned in paragraph (h);

(j) other assistance, based on an assessment of the person’s needs, provided by the chief executive.

Examples of assistance, based on a person’s needs, that may be provided by the chief executive— financial assistance under section 159 help given to ensure a young person with impaired capacity is given the opportunity to develop decision-making skills and exercise the rights mentioned in the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000, sections 5 and 6.

Where to from here…

Firstly, this Bill needs to assent  into legislation and become law. Given that the bill is now passed, it is not likely that this will be delayed, but this may be affected by the recently announced Queensland election which will happen on 25 November. When an election is called, the business of government (including passing legislation and making laws) stops.

The Department then needs to make new polices about how it will all work. It’s one thing to have a new law, but the department needs to be able to make the law work, and they need policies to do this.