Law Update

Legislative amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005

The amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 relate to Secure Welfare Services and out of home care.

The amendment in relation to Secure Welfare Services authorises staff to:

  • Conduct screen searches of child residents by electronic or mechanical device, frisking and unclothed searches.  Frisking and unclothed searches will occur on admission or where there is reasonable belief that prohibited items are being concealed.
  • Search of visitors by electronic or mechanical device.
  • Seize contraband items from child residents or visitors. Seized items will be returned upon exiting the facility, disposed of or handed over to police.
  • Place child residents in seclusion as a last resort where other strategies have not been effective in preventing a child’s behaviour from becoming dangerous. Seclusion will include monitoring the child at intervals no longer than 15 minutes. Seclusion can occur for up to 24 hours and requires executive approval for any time extension.

The second amendment will prohibit the use of physical force by Secure Welfare Services and out of home carers, unless reasonable and necessary to prevent a child from harming themselves or others or damaging property, security reasons or as otherwise authorised by law. The amendment will also 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. Out of home carers includes residential carers and 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.

The amendments clarify that Secure Welfare services are lock up facilities and makes search definitions consistent for Secure Welfare Services and youth justice facilities.

The above amendments will be implemented on 1 July 2014. The Centre for Excellence has requested detailed advice from the Department of Human Services on these changes especially on physical force unless reasonable and necessary.


Legislative amendment to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 

A legislative amendment has been made to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 that provides for the registration of early childhood teachers to recognise them as qualified teaching professionals. This results in early childhood teachers becoming classified as mandated reporters of physical and sexual child abuse under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 like teachers.  This amendment will not be implemented for approximately 15 months to allow time to prepare the sector.


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