The Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT (ALS) and PIAC have re-iterated their concerns about the NSW Government’s child protection and adoption reforms, which would have dire consequences for Aboriginal children and families.
NSW Parliament will today consider a Bill amending the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act and the Adoption Act which will fast track adoptions without the consent of parents and limit the time for children to be restored to their families following a removal.
‘Adoption must always be a last resort for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care’ said ALS Acting CEO, Janelle Clarke.
‘We are deeply concerned that the NSW Government has ignored the many calls of Aboriginal organisations to prioritise support for families and to recognise that cultural identity and family connections are essential to the stability and wellbeing of Aboriginal children.
‘These reforms are based on outdated policies which risk permanently severing Aboriginal children from their families and culture. They will do nothing to address the crisis in child protection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW, who are being removed from their families at over ten times the rate of non-Indigenous children.
‘We know that the best form of permanency is supporting families to stay together and this Bill does nothing to ensure that assistance is provided to Aboriginal families in crisis.
‘It is shocking that this Bill has been introduced without meaningful consultation with our communities. The NSW Government must listen to the voices of Aboriginal people and recognise that the solutions for our children rest with us.’
‘By placing arbitrary time limits on family restoration, this Bill restricts the flexibility of the Courts to make decisions in the best interests of children on a case-by-case basis’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.
‘A one-size-fits-all approach is unnecessary. Under current laws, the Children’s Court can already make orders that support a stable placement while still allowing for important judicial and Government supervision, and safeguarding contact between a child and their birth family.
‘We call on the NSW Government to delay the progress of these amendments to allow for proper consultation and further consideration of the full impact of these significant changes’ said Mr Hunyor.
The amendments are strongly opposed by the community legal sector, Aboriginal organisations, the Public Service Association of NSW (which represents FACS caseworkers) and the NSW Law Society.
PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce – 0478 739 280
Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), Richard Lenarduzzi – 0411 254 390