Legislative Council: Thursday, November 16, 2023


Child Protection

The Hon. S.L. GAME (14:49): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries about child protection in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.L. GAME: The latest annual report handed down by the Guardian for Children and Young People, Ms Shona Reid, details how children in state care as young as seven are self-harming, and children as young as 11 are turning to drugs to cope with trauma. One in four children living in state-run homes are reported missing by their carers, and less than half of the children visited by the guardian attend school full time. The guardian has suggested that conditions for children living in state-run homes supervised by paid carers are possibly worse but government funding is insufficient to conduct more inspections.

In July last year, I introduced a Children and Young People (Safety) (Child and Young Person's Visitor) Amendment Bill, which would have required the minister to provide the Child and Young Person's Visitor with the staff and other resources that the visitor reasonably needs for exercising the visitor's functions. The government did not support the bill, which would have better supported the agency's aim of regularly visiting and inspecting individual residential and emergency care homes including that of Aboriginal children who are over-represented in the child protection system. My questions to the minister are:

1. Should I reintroduce my bill and will the government now support it, and if not, why not?

2. How is the department responding and what specifically is the range of proactive measures aiming to prevent self-harm and drug use affecting children and young people in care?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:50): I thank the honourable member for her question about this very important topic. I will refer it to the Minister for Child Protection in the other place and bring back a response.