Child Protection

At the time of this report, hundreds of children each year were involved in new child protection proceedings in Victoria. In some cases, neither the law nor the procedure seemed to focus on the child's best interest.  

In November 2009, following a review by the Ombudsman, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to provide the government with a range of reform options for the handling of child protection cases in the Children's Court of Victoria.

In February 2010, the Commission published an information paper for public comment containing draft options for reform. From this, we received 51 submissions and engaged in 28 consultations. We also met the two major institutions in child protection proceedings—the Children’s Court and the Department of Human Services—as well as practitioners in the field of child protection.

Tabled in Parliament on 5 October 2010, the Commission's report, Protection Applications in the Children's Court, contained five options for reform. The options drew upon innovative aspects of the Victorian legal system—for example, the growing emphasis upon appropriate dispute resolution (ADR)—and important developments in child protection procedures elsewhere, such as family group conferences in New Zealand. 

Implementation

In January 2011, shortly after the Commission’s report was tabled, the government commissioned a further inquiry into child protection, known as the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry. The terms of reference for that inquiry required consideration of ‘possible changes to the processes of the courts referencing the recent work of and options put forward by the Victorian Law Reform Commission.’

Tabled in February 2012, the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children report specifically endorsed some of the Commission’s recommendations, in particular the introduction of a graduated range of supported, structured and child-centred agreement-making processes, with court as a last resort and less adversarial procedures in the Children’s Court.

Amendments to the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) in 2013 and 2014 legislated some of these recommendations.

Timeline

Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Reference
Consultation
Submissions
Final report
Tabled in parliament
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Project Publications

Protection Applications in the Children's Court: Final Report

Tabled in Parliament on 5 October 2010, the Commission's Protection Applications in the Children's Court: Final Report offered five options for major...

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Child Protection: Information Paper

After preliminary research into child protection in relation to the Family Division of the Children's Court, in February 2010, the Commission...

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Child Protection: Community Group Devolved Consultation Reports

For this reference, the Commission considered it important to consult with young people, foster carers and parents who have contact with the Children...

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Child Protection - Terms of Reference

In December 2009, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to review Victoria's child protection arrangements under the following terms of reference...

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