Continuing the call for external review for child protection decisions

Most child protection decisions in the ACT are not subject to external review. This is a serious defect that has been repeatedly pointed out to the ACT Government since 2004. Early in 2017, I called on the Barr Government to recognise the importance of external review to both quality decision-making and community confidence.

Since that time, I have not stopped pushing for action to be taken. After much delay, a panel reviewing this matter released a discussion paper a few months ago and opened community consultation. As part of that consultation, all four ACT Human Rights Commissioners issued a joint statement in full support of my position.

‘External merits review of child protection decisions’, they wrote, ‘is necessary to uphold the rights of children and young people, and their families’; otherwise, the government is not in ‘full compliance with the ACT’s human rights obligations’. One week ago, the president of the Commission likewise endorsed another point that I first raised back in 2017: without external review, we are out of step with other Australian states and territories.

Today I moved another motion calling on the minister to update the Assembly. I also reminded her that the ACT has the fewest kids in care and protection who report feeling listened to and asked specifically that she tell us what the government has done during this review to hear the voices of the children and young people in the system.

I am pleased that the minister provided an interim update in response to my motion, and I look forward to receiving the final update early next year. It is time that the Barr Government fixes this longstanding problem.

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