On Thursday, 16 May 2019 the ACT Legislative Assembly (the Assembly) asked the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services (the Committee) to inquire into Child and Youth Protection Services.
As part of this Inquiry, the Assembly asked the Committee to inquire into and report on two matters. This inquiry homepage is concerned with the first matter—specifically:
The Committee is due to report on the first part of the Inquiry by no later than March 2020.
The referral from the Assembly to the Committee can be found under the ‘Terms of Reference’ tab, below.
Any Inquiry related matters, please contact the Committee Secretary on (02) 6205 0136 or by email at: LACommitteeHACS@parliament.act.gov.au.
Part 1—CP v Director-General of Community Services Directorate  ACTCA 32
The Committee acknowledges the serious nature of issues relating to Child and Youth Protection Services. The Committee also recognises that part one of the Inquiry is related to a specific case and potential systemic issues that may have been identified as a result of the case.
Due to the individual nature of part one of the Inquiry, the Committee will, primarily, be inviting contributions to this part of the Inquiry from known, interested parties. Any material received in response to this Inquiry will be held in ways that will not allow for individual people to be identified without their express consent.
The Committee notes that it has a broad public interest mandate and is not in a position to determine the rights and wrongs of individual cases. The Committee process is not a forum to resolve issues pertaining solely to individual cases or grievances but is a forum to explore the general matters of principle, policy or public administration relevant to the terms of reference.
For any further enquiries, please contact the Committee Secretary on (02) 6205 0136 or by email at: LACommitteeHACS@parliament.act.gov.au
At its meeting on Thursday, 16 May 2019, the Assembly passed the following resolution:
"That this Assembly:
(1) notes that:
(a) the 2004 Vardon report raised concerns from community members that the ACT's care and protection system lacked 'effective external scrutiny' to remedy 'unlawful or incorrect administrative actions or decisions', and also mentioned the need for 'transparency and accountability in decision making';
(b) the 2016 Glanfield inquiry recommended, as one of four key outcomes, the 'improved quality of, and transparency in ... decision making and practices' in the ACT's care and protection system;
(c) in its 2016 Response to Family Violence, the ACT Government stated that:
(i) 'increased transparency and the building of trust is particularly necessary in child protection cases' ;
(ii) the Territory's care and protection system 'must adopt a culture of transparency'; and
(iii) 'the ACT Government accepts that proper accountability enhances community confidence in public administration, especially in complex areas such as statutory child protection services' ; and
(d) the ACT Government recently released a discussion paper on options for the review of child protection decisions in the ACT for public consultation;
(2) also notes that:
(a) a 2018 Court of Appeal decision, reported in The Canberra Times on 17 February 2019, set aside previous Children's Court and Supreme Court decisions in relation to the children's need for care and protection; and
(b) a number of prominent Canberrans, including legal practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders, and a former ACT Chief Minister, have publicly called for an inquiry into this matter;
(3) refers the following matters to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services:
(a) analysis of the case referred to in (2)(a) to identify potential systemic issues that may need to be addressed, and report to the Assembly no later than March 2020; and
(b) inquiry into the ability to share information in the care and protection system in accordance with the Children and Young People Act 2008, with a view to providing the maximum transparency and accountability so as to maintain community confidence in the ACT's care and protection system, and report to the Assembly on a date to be determined by the Committee, but no later than July 2020; and
(4) requests the Committee to observe the following in relation to the inquiries established at (3):
(a) that the Committee take evidence and hold documents in ways that will not allow for individual people to be identified without their express consent; and
(b) to the extent that people providing or hearing evidence related to the inquiries are traumatised, that appropriate supports are referred or provided."