#childsafety | Anglicare Tasmania releases report on state’s child safety system | The Examiner

news, local-news, Anglicare, Roger Jaensch, Adrienne Picone, Tasmania, child safety, Teresa Hinton, Marcus Turnbull, court

A new report by Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre has highlighted flaws in Tasmania’s child safety system. The report, Rebalancing the Scales: Access to Justice for Parents in the Tasmanian Child Safety System, was informed by interviews with 36 parents and 45 members of the legal profession. One parent described her experiences with the child safety and court systems as frustrating, lonely and unsupported. “I have felt voiceless, empty and helpless and I have not understood my rights,” she said. “Like all parents, I want the best for my children and I feel very strongly that this can only happen if parents have access to legal aid funding, good legal advice and a support or social worker before, during and after their appearances in court. “The current system is not supporting parents with the compassion and advice that they need. “This is contributing to poor outcomes for parents, and most importantly, for our children.” The report found as demand was increasing, with Child Protection Orders up 27 per cent compared to last year, access to legal representation was problematic. Anglicare made a number of recommendations including SARC senior research and policy officer Teresa Hinton said better wraparound support was needed for all families in the child safety system. “The right support can reduce the number of children and young people entering out-of-home care, which in turn delivers social benefits that will flow across generations,” Ms Hinton said. TasCOSS chief executive Adrienne Picone said the report showed there was still work to do in the redesign of Tasmania’s child safety system and the associated justice system processes. “While the goal of these systems is to keep families together wherever possible, this research shows that there is more we must do to provide families with the resources and support they need to stay together,” Ms Picone said. She recommended the government adopt the practical solutions outlined in the report as a matter of priority. Senior Counsel Marcus Turnbull said this research was the most important report into child safety in decades. “I am hoping that this is the catalyst for real change to create better outcomes for Tasmania’s most vulnerable children,” Mr Turnbull said. “The legal community recognises that there is considerable room for improvement in the way the child safety system and Magistrates Court operate. “We believe parents deserve better access to legal aid funding and representation, and support Anglicare’s call for the expansion of legal aid funding and a move towards a collaborative, problem-solving approach in order to make this happen, and we will see fewer children removed from their families if these changes are introduced.” Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch said the government would carefully consider the findings and recommendations of the report in the context of current policy developments underway in this area. “The report provides a valuable contribution to the complex and challenging area of child safety legal intervention and the impact legal processes have on parents and families,” Mr Jaensch said. “Our ‘Strong Families Safe Kids’ reforms are focused on supporting families early, before they reach a point of crisis and require legal intervention, but we are committed to improving the experiences and outcomes for those families that do require statutory intervention and engagement with legal and court processes.”

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