Queensland’s vulnerable children will need to be informed of their rights and where they can turn for help, and foster carers will be screened more rigorously under new state laws.
Minister for Children and Youth Leanne Linard said the changes strengthen children’s rights, give young people a voice in decisions that affect them, and better regulate aid.
Laws passed by the state parliament on Tuesday night are expected to affect the lives of many Indigenous children in the system.
“They told us about the rights they want to be protected, including the right to be treated with respect and the right to be treated fairly,” Ms. Linard said in a statement Tuesday night.
“Today’s bill solves these problems and gives significant new rights to children in the protection system.”
According to the changes, the authorities must make targeted, thorough and timely efforts to protect the children of the first nations and ensure their safety.
They must also ensure the safety, well-being and best interests of the child when decisions are made about them.
Children in child protection need to be taught their rights and how they can get help.
The Charter of Rights has also been extended for young people to include cultural, religious, linguistic, justice, respect, identity development, play and leisure.
Ms. Linard said the laws will also make it easier for children to question decisions about their care, and adults will have to “truly listen, interact and understand the child’s views.”
At the same time, the authorities will be allowed access to an extended criminal history of a person when assessing their suitability to be a guardian.
Trustee certificates will be valid for three years, not the current two.
The minister also said the laws facilitate the application of kinship guardians.
The changes also more clearly set out reporting requirements and establish a legal basis for a nationwide register of trustees.
Finally, the ministerial office will be allowed to provide parents with information on when a child has died, regardless of whether they obeyed the order and how old he is.