Legislative Council: Thursday, July 07, 2022


Child and Young Person's Visitor

In reply to the Hon. S.L. GAME (16 June 2022).

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Child Protection has advised:

The Malinauskas Labor government has a strong focus on both doing what we can to keep children and young people safe and on strengthening families so that they have the best chance of succeeding.

We must change and deepen the community understanding and discourse about the risk and tension that the child protection system carries, and about the interconnected issues families face, issues such as poverty, domestic violence, mental ill health and substance misuse. To achieve real change, we need to implement a whole-of-government approach and whole-of-community approach focused on child safety and wellbeing. And on the system that supports them to be safe and well if they are in out-of-home care.

The Child and Young Person’s Visitor role is established under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017. The role of the Child and Young Person’s Visitor is to promote and advocate for the best interests of children and young people who are under the guardianship of the Department for Child Protection (DCP) chief executive, and who are living in DCP residential care. This is an important function to ensure oversight and advocacy for individuals and to provide advice on a systemic level. The guardian role is a key part of the holistic system approach that is needed to ensure we align efforts to keep children and young people safe.

In 2017, the former Labor government funded the guardian’s office for a two-year trial of a Child and Young Person’s Visitor program. In the trial program’s final report (February 2020), the guardian sought ongoing funding for the program, but this was not provided by the Marshall Liberal government, ultimately resulting in the resignation of the incumbent from the role in August 2021.

The current government recognises the importance of having a Child and Young Person's Visitor and staff to support them in the role. We have committed $1.87m over the next four years to resource the position. This investment is complemented by other commitments to child protection in the first budget of the Malinauskas Labor government, reflecting the deep commitment needed to strengthen the system.

Recruitment of the new Guardian for Children and Young People, who will serve as the Child and Young Person's Visitor, is entering its final stages, and the government looks forward to working with the office holder in the future as this important visitor role is reinstated.

We look forward to progressing a number of initiatives to better support and empower children and young people and enable them to thrive, and to the upcoming review of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

At the centre of all of our efforts will be children, young people, their families and communities.