Sunday, 7 May 2017
The Commission for Children and Young People will soon begin an inquiry into the permanency changes arising from the Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Permanent Care and Other Matters) Act 2014. The changes took effect in March 2016, and the inquiry will examine the evidence available after the first six months of their operation to consider whether the amendments are meeting their objectives of improving permanency for children and young people and whether they have lead to unintended consequences.
At the 17 August Children's Matters Forum, Commissioner Liana Buchanan said: "In just four months as Commissioner I have heard many different views about the impact of the permanency amendments, including some very strong concerns. I am in no doubt this is an important inquiry, and I look forward to reviewing the evidence and hearing from people about their experiences over the past six months. I encourage people who are interested to make a contribution to the process - the more information we have to rely on, the stronger our findings will be."
The inquiry will consider whether the amendments have had any direct impact on outcomes for vulnerable children and families; whether the permanency amendments are leading to timelier permanent outcomes, including family preservation and family reunification for vulnerable children and for children for whom it is unsafe to return to the care of a parent; whether the permanency amendments have strengthened cultural supports and planning for Aboriginal children in out of home care; what impact, if any, have the permanency amendments had on child protection and other services; whether there have been any unintended consequences directly attributable to the permanency amendments; barriers that prevent permanent care orders being made.
The inquiry will be informed by evidence and data and will involve a number of components including consultations and a submission process. The Commission wants to hear from a range of interested stakeholders about their experience of these amendments. This inquiry will be guided by the best interest principles in section 10 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The inquiry will commence in September 2016 and be finalised in March 2017. Submissions will be sought in the near future and updates on the inquiry will be available on the Commission's website.
(Extract from a NCW Victoria report supplied by Anne McLeish OAM, Executive Director, Grandparents Victoria Inc)