On 1 December 2013 the Victorian Government introduced amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 that governs community services, child protection and youth justice. The amendments are a series of changes following the Report of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry. The majority of the amendments have implications for Child Protection Services, with some potential impact for out of home care services. The changes will benefit outcomes for children and families in the Children’s Court with speedier resolution to matters, less delays, less exposure to the court environment and more efficient court processes.
The changes to the legislation relevant to child protection proceedings include:
Proposed amendments 2014
There are some additional amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 that have been proposed for 2014.
One proposed amendment will provide a legislative framework for security practices at Secure Welfare Services that ensures the safety and wellbeing of all residents and staff.
A second proposed amendment clarifies the circumstances in which reasonable force may be used within Secure Welfare Services and in out of home care. The definition of out of home carers includes foster carers or a person employed by an out of home care service to provide care or services to children in an out of home care service managed by the service.
This proposed amendment will allow Secure Welfare Services staff and out of home carers to use reasonable force, as a last resort, to prevent a child from harming themselves or others or damaging property. It will prohibit the use of physical force, unless reasonable and necessary to prevent harm to persons, damage to property, security reasons or as otherwise authorised by law. Further, it will prohibit corporal punishment or intimidation of a child and any form of physical or emotional abuse by out of home carers and Secure Welfare Services.
The Department of Human Services has committed to provide detailed advice to community service organisations on these proposed changes including training materials. In addition, the Quality of Care guidelines and related materials will be updated to reflect these changes.
Any new information that becomes available will be provided to you via the Centre's updates or e-news.