Legislative Council: Thursday, March 09, 2023


Child Protection

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson:

That this council—

1. Recognises that the child protection system in South Australia is overwhelmed;

2. Recognises that South Australia spends less than the national average on services to prevent children from entering care; and

3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to provide earlier, more intensive intervention for at-risk families before they fall into crisis.

(Continued from 8 February 2023.)

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:46): I rise to speak in support of this commonsense and factual motion to recognise that the child protection system in South Australia is overwhelmed and to call on the Premier to better resource early intervention measures. Members may recall that I recently submitted an amendment to the Children and Young People (Safety) Act that sought to explicitly ensure the basic minimum amount of resourcing required for the Child and Young Person's Visitor to carry out their role.

This important change simply tried to provide consistency with other similar roles represented in the act and to allow for the minimum recommended number of four visits per residential facility each year. Regrettably, while the crossbench saw fit to support this amendment, neither the Liberal Party nor the Labor Party agreed. Subsequently, despite this Premier saying on multiple occasions how much he worries about vulnerable children being criminally neglected, he failed at the first test. This Premier and his child protection and recreation, sport and racing minister are all talk and no action.

This is why I have introduced the Statutes Amendment (Children in Care) Bill. It is thought that children under the care of the state have, in the main, poor educational outcomes compared with their peers. My bill will allow statistics to be tracked, trends to be identified and solutions to be discussed. We must all do what we can to level the educational outcomes and opportunities for all children.

Related to this motion is my own motion, which seeks to acknowledge parental alienating behaviours as a form of child abuse and family violence. The aims of that motion align with this one in that they seek to elevate and put the interests of children first and foremost in decision-makers' minds. Our parliament and the courts need to take this matter seriously. To ignore its existence is to perpetuate family violence and subjugate children's rights to those of an alienating parent, grandparent or guardian.

I commend this motion and hope that members will consider supporting further measures, like my bill for children in care and motion for recognising parental alienating behaviours, for the benefit of our children and young people.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. N.J. Centofanti.