Shaping a Better Child Protection System: ACWA’s Response

ACWA has responded to the Shaping a Better Child Protection System Discussion Paper with valuable input from our member agencies.

To help gather sector feedback ACWA hosted a consultation workshop in November, which was attended by 12 member representatives from the service spectrum of early intervention to out-of-home care (OOHC) and adoption specialists. We focused on the range of proposals raised in the discussion paper, from family preservation, restoration, mandatory reporting and Family Group Conferencing to contact orders, guardianship, adoption and supported OOHC. Thank you to all who attended and prepared feedback or case studies for this consultation.

ACWA also received written comments from members who responded to a series of questions posed in our What’s New @ ACWA communique or shared their draft submissions. We greatly value the input of our members, especially when responding to wide-reaching legislative amendment proposals.

ACWA welcomes the high level championing of continuous improvement and best practice in our sector, while noting a corresponding imperative to ensure that we do not embark on precipitous change at a time of significant sector reform.

Due to the significant amendments proposed in the discussion paper and the limited timeframe provided for sector consultation, ACWA has also raised concern that the implications and any unintended consequences of the changes have not been fully explored. As a result, we have called for an exposure draft to be made available for further consultation if the proposals outlined in the discussion paper are progressed.

Some of the proposals contained in the discussion paper are already achievable under the current legislative framework and supported by recent changes in policy direction. ACWA notes that practice and operational changes are continuing and can be further supported by the provision of specific support. The Permanency Support Program Sector Needs Analysis is one way that ACWA is working to identify the supports needed to build capacity.

Other key points ACWA has highlighted in response to the discussion paper include:

  • A call for a greater focus on ongoing as-needed support for those with a care experience following restoration or other permanency pathways such as guardianship and adoption.
  • A call for a greater focus on engaging families throughout the permanency support program, acknowledging that the focus needs to be on supporting the child/ young person for life and lasting, positive relationships are a key way of achieving this.
  • A need to review FACS funding package guidelines in light of any changes as a result of the proposals outlined in the discussion paper.
  • A need to increase family support service capacity in regional, rural and remote areas to provide appropriate referral pathways for families in need.

Please contact ACWA’s Policy and Membership Team if you have further questions or feedback on the Shaping a Better Child Protection System Discussion Paper.