Vulnerable Queensland children will have to be educated about their rights and where they can seek help, and foster carers will be vetted more stringently under new state laws.
Minster for Children and Youth Leanne Linard said the changes reinforce children’s rights, give young people a say in decisions that impact them and better regulate care.
The laws, passed by state parliament on Tuesday night, are expected to impact the lives of many Indigenous children in the system.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
“They told us about the rights they want to see protected, including the right to be treated with respect and the right to be treated fairly,” Ms Linard said in a statement on Tuesday night.
“Today’s bill addresses these concerns and provides significant new rights to children in the protection system.”
Under the changes, authorities must make purposeful, thorough and timely efforts to protect First Nations children and ensure they’re safe.
They must also ensure the safety, wellbeing and the best interests of a child are taken into account when decisions are being made about them.
Children in the child protection system have to be taught about their rights and how they can get help.
A Charter of Rights has also been expanded for young people to include cultural, religious, language, fairness, respect, identity development, play and recreation.
Ms Linard said the laws will also make it easier for children to question decisions made about their care and adults will have to “genuinely listen to, engage with, and understand the child’s views”.
Meanwhile, authorities will be allowed to access a person’s expanded criminal history when assessing their suitability to be a carer.
Carer certificates will valid for three years, rather than the current two.
The minister also said the laws made it easier for kinship carers to apply.
The changes also more clearly lay out reporting requirements and will set out the legal framework for a statewide carers’ register.
Finally, the minister’s department will be allowed to provide information to a parents when a child dies, regardless if the child was subject to an order or how old they are.
© AAP 2022