“This legislation will give the State’s most vulnerable children the best chance of a better future, by increasing early intervention services, streamlining adoption and providing more support to new mothers,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“The NSW Government is committed to strengthening the child protection system by giving parents, courts and caseworkers the tools they need to provide a safe environment for at-risk children.
“Our changes will put vulnerable children first, while also giving troubled mothers the help they need to turn their lives around.”
Under these new laws there will be:
- increased early intervention services;
- expansion of Parental Responsibility Contracts to support expectant mothers;
- court-issued Parental Capacity Orders; and,
- the streamlining of open adoption – which means adopted children can maintain a connection with their biological parents.
Ms Goward said the introduction of this new legislation to the Parliament comes 12 months after a comprehensive discussion paper was publicly released, and it follows extensive consultation with the public and the sector.
“These new laws will be underpinned by an additional $35 million to assist with the roll-out of the reforms - including the provision of early intervention services, even before a child is born,” Ms Goward said.
“By intervening earlier, and providing services such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation or mental health counselling for parents, we will give these children, and indeed families, the best possible chance at a happy and healthy life.
“Under these new laws, if an expectant mother with a drug addiction doesn’t fulfil their obligations the government will take steps to protect the child.
“These reforms also acknowledge the greater role open adoption, or long-term guardianship in the case of Aboriginal children, can play in providing vulnerable children with the basic need of a safe home for life.
“There are about 18,000 children in out of home care in NSW. Under the current system, if a parent is deemed not capable of looking after a child then the child is put into long-term foster care - however in many cases adoption is a much better option.
“The NSW Government is not prepared to accept a life of multiple placements in foster care as the best outcome for children whose birth parents are unable or unwilling to care for them.
“The stability and permanency provided by open adoption is widely acknowledged, and is a central component of this reform."