Family is culture bill passes the Upper House
The NSW Government’s Bill to address Aboriginal over-representation in out-of-home care (OOHC) and increase support for children in OOHC and their families has passed the Upper House today.
Minister for Families and Communities, and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones said under the Bill there will be a legislative requirement to take active efforts to keep children safely at home with their parents or families when it is possible to do so.
“This landmark Legislation will help change the lives of children in OOHC by ensuring everthing is done to keep young people with their families or kin,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.
“The NSW Government has sent a clear message – we are committed to taking action against the issue of Aboriginal over-representation in OOHC and we are committed to taking action now.
“The changes will improve provision of culturally appropriate care to Aboriginal children and give Aboriginal families a greater say in decision making and more involvement in court proceedings.”
The Bill implements 14 FIC recommended amendments from the Family is Culture Legislative Reforms report. An additional recommendation is being addressed through policy change and more complex recommendations will be subject to further consultations with stakeholders.
Other key changes in the Bill include:
- greater accountability and transparency in the child protection system
- improved casework and culturally sensitive assessments
- requirements for the Department of Communities and Justice to provide evidence to the Children’s Court of all the steps actively taken by caseworkers to prevent children being removed from their families.
The FIC report’s legislative reforms were informed and developed in consultation with more than 130 stakeholders.